In a world recovering from the LSD fuelled, peace-loving, flower doting culture of the ’60s came a breath of fresh angst—the anti-establishment future generation. Gone were the daisy chains, bell-bottoms and tie-dye, and as with most cultural shifts, fashion evolved. The new rebellion came in the form of leather jackets, slogan t-shirts, skinny jeans and ripped everything. The look was a drastic contrast to the previous decade and was met with controversy and discomfort.
The dynamic duo of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren were the indisputable champions of this radical look. I mean, who can forget the Sex Pistols God Save the Queen only eternalised by the t-shirt with a safety pin through her nose?! Along with designers like Jean Paul Gaultier and Zandra Rhodes—punk and grunge fashion took over popular culture and runways.
We could go on forever about the history of punk and how it impacted fashion/culture around it, but we’d rather talk about the designers and people who immortalised it. Bringing punk trends into each generation in some form, this is our shout out to every inspiring outfit, celebrity, musician, and designer’s contribution on World Punk Day.
Vivienne Westwood (AKA The Mother Of Punk)
It would definitely be naive to talk about punk fashion and ignore the monumental impact that her brand made on the world. Reimagining storefronts, Viviene’s landmark store SEX took Chelsea by storm. They did not create punk fashion; however, they did market the movement more cleverly and effectively than anyone else at the time.
On the other side of the pond, the punk movement was gaining momentum. The Ramones didn’t look like the rockstars we expected. The rips on their iconic black Levis 505’s and frays on their leather jackets weren’t fashioned; they came from wear and tear. DIY on clothing spurred inspiration to a new wardrobe trend.
The daughter of a go-go dancer and Playboy bunny, Blondie’s lead singer, Debbie Harry, created the mix of high-low fashion with Levis jeans and key designer pieces. The bad girl, rock-n-roller, became a fashion icon, influencing generations with her music and style. Slogan t-shirts, paired with ripped jeans and leather jackets, became an all too familiar staple associated with the genre.
The Riot Grrrl, Joan Jett, not only conquered rock n roll, taking her place in the Hall of Fame but gave us musical outlets and fashion rebellion. Kohl-lined eyes and the (ever-hated) mullet iconised by Kristen Stewart in the eponymous biopic of Joan’s debut band, The Runaways!
Gaultier personified punk with his absolute non-conformist attitude – daring to confront fashion as diabolically as the musical pioneers of the culture. Always encouraging inclusivity and radical fashion – Gaultier is a forever favourite, creating trends that trickled down all the way to fast fashion and DIY.
Notoriously famous, Courtney really made the ’90s grunge fashion scene, if not making a scene otherwise. “She is erratic, imprudent and sometimes jarringly profound – like a giant, ravenous female I’d set loose on American popular culture,” said one interview, and they couldn’t be more on the nose. Without a doubt, Courtney is a force to be reckoned with.
MTV blasting in the background during our childhood introduced us to this powerhouse of rock-n-roll. Her flaming red hair, exaggerated makeup, brightly coloured mini skirts, and Dr Martens are still a go-to look for any grunge wardrobe inspiration.
Billie Joe Armstrong
Ring in the fame of Green Day, and you’re confronted with thoughts of posers and Avril Lavigne (jokes). However, no one can dispute the absolute new post-punk that Green Day brought to us in the ’90s. We may have been 11 years old, listening to When I Come Around and realising our entire world was changing and the classical piano days were soon to be forgotten. Giving in to a world of teenage angst and rebellion!
The closely intertwined relationship of punk and fashion isn’t a surprising affair. What is fashion, if not rebellious? Fighting norms, breaking the rules, feeling true freedom is what the true visionaries of the industry teach us. Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Balmain, Monse… the list goes on. We see the turnaround and reimagination of punk fashion every season. Whether it’s studs, chunky boots, tartans checks, or just your everyday ripped Levis, it’s safe to say and clear to see that punk is indeed not dead.