Designers are reviving punk rock style during the women's wear spring 2000 shows here, offering versions ranging from a pretty but rough-edged homage, to a collection that is polished and well-mannered enough for lunch at the Ritz.
The first designer label to put punk on the runway here was the team of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana in their secondary D&G collection. The youth-oriented line was filled with safety-pin-studded shirts, graffiti-painted shirts and fish-net tights worn with micro-minis. The intention, Gabbana said, was to give the young customer something that she had not experienced, to fill her in on a bit of pop cultural history that the hip-hop generation has missed. The collection was inspired by performers such as Nina Hagen, whose stage act often included her ripping the head off a Barbie doll.
While D&G was the most overtly indebted to the punk movement, other collections used motifs such as slashing, reptile prints, spiky hair and hardware adornment to make the punk point. Tom Ford at Gucci was hesitant to use the word punk to describe his collection, choosing to talk more generally about how '70s style informs his work. But punk was undeniably there. From the waxed and spiked hair to the black jersey dresses with their sliced-open backs, the collection conjured up images of a rich young woman's glossy version of punk.
Designer Narciso Rodriguez offered one of the most refined takes on the new punk movement. The regular pattern of his loosely woven sweaters was interrupted with a stylized run. His gauzy, beaded cashmere sweaters had ripped seams and torn hems. A white sheath had a single, broad stroke of black glitter that sparkled like glass dust embedded in asphalt. And a black dress that from a distance looked like it had been embroidered with metallic threads was actually studded with silver staples.
Even Giorgio Armani can be included in this punk moment. Models in his Emporio collection walked the runway with splashes of neon pink, blue and purple painted into their hair.
All of this deliberate shredding and studding reads like a purposeful attack on the glamour that has dominated the runways. It is as though designers have decided that opulence and luxury have become too much; they've left everyone feeling too coddled. The time has come to rough things up a bit. Punk is a way of creating an imperfect glamour, yet it is a style that still allows for sex appeal, danger and youthful abandon. Unlike the original version of punk, which had an underlying sense of political and social subversiveness, Punk: Part Two lacks that passion and earnestness. It is no less valid from an aesthetic perspective, but it has yet to find its philosophical legs.
But as a cultural barometer, the new punk comes as something of a backlash to the stylistic influences of rock-and-roll and hip-hop. Designers have come close to sucking those musical genres dry of all creative juices. But with the success of hybrids of rap, metal and rock from performers such as Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock, it is no surprise that designers have been moved to create something that is neither old-style glossy nor high-tech slick.