The subversive cool of punk style in 1980s London

(Robin Laurance/For The Washington Post)

Every other week we’ll be taking a little dig through the crates of The Post’s photo archive to present work by former staff and contributing photographers. This week we travel across the pond to London, because, hey, we’re kind of on a roll with subculture this month. ‘Rudeboy’, anyone?

Coming up Oct. 8 through 12, the third annual CBGB Music and Film Festival will kick off in New York, celebrating emerging talent on the punk scene.

The festival is named after CBGB & OMFUG, the Manhattan music club that is recognized by some as the birthplace of punk. CBGB hurled its way through history as the premier venue for promoting underground and emerging new wave bands, from when it opened in 1973 until it closed in 2006. It would eventually become a new hub for fashion thanks in part to designer John Varvatos, who opened a men’s clothing shop on the grounds in 2007.

Punk and fashion have always been inextricably laced. Iconic designer and punk grand dame Vivienne Westwood knew this at the beginning of the movement, and even opened a store in the middle of London called Seditionaries (formerly called SEX), which catered specifically to the punk demographic.  (Check out our never-before-seen photo of her below). Personal style that broke the mold of was the billboard of youth rebellion.

In the 1970s and 1980s, The Washington Post commissioned British photographer Robin Laurance to document a new breed of cool kids who brazenly wore studded, black leather jackets and motorcycle boots and used safety pins as embellishments on their clothes as well as their ears, and who had adapted several cues from the bondage aesthetic to their everyday style. They were an immediate response to changes in music, art, literature and sociopolitical ideologies that favored anti-establishment, individuality and freedom.