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Vivienne Westwood for Moda Operandi PUNK collection

The Costume Institute's PUNK show at the Met continues to be a source of quite interesting contrasts and, well, let's just call them contradictions. Today, show sponsor Moda Operandi, which sells high-end runway clothing before it hits retail, released its punk boutique collection. The exclusive collection includes over 100 items, including new pieces from designers Balmain, Eddie Borgo, Thom Browne, Givenchy, House of Waris, Moschino, Prabal Gurung, Rodarte, and Vivienne Westwood—plus rare vintage fashion and art objects, many of them exclusive. Shredded T-shirts, Germs LPs, Patti Smith photos, even a faux mohawk are on offer. Prices range from $100 to $13,000. Are you annoyed, excited? Not sure?

“The enduring appeal of punk’s avant-garde ideology is that it inspires designers across the spectrum of design sensibility,” said Lauren Santo Domingo, Co-Founder of Moda Operandi. “Each designer has created pieces for this capsule collection that expresses their unique vision of punk’s rebellious spirit.”  

On the critical side, some might say this is punk drained of any rebellious content or context, and presented purely as consumable, expensive, designer-associated fashion. They'd say high price tags and punk-by-elites goes against the very foundations of the subculture.

What right has high-end fashion and online retailing to stake its claim on punk, anyway? Perhaps no right at all, but in an age where continued  relevance is everything, there will always be savvy, if faintly ridiculous, attempts to plant high-end designer flags in unclaimed territory.

On the plus side, we tend to give highly artistic fashion designers—many of whom slogged it out on the fringes before making it big—the benefit of the doubt. One can't deny that the looks from Westwood, Gurung, and Givenchy wouldn't exist without punk inspiration.

And it is somewhat reassuring to know that the elites don't quite get the PUNK show theme, and Monday's gala looks might actually be a trainwreck of badly managed style. The ultimate punk revenge?

At the end of the day, the "Chaos to Couture" collection highlights an issue that's been ever-present since '77. Putting "punk" in the same sentence as "high price tag" always has a hollow ring to it, and yet punk still looks (and sounds) great after all these years.

Visit modaoperandi.com to browse the PUNK collection.

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