Smells Like Teen Spirit: Punks- Style and Ideology

This week was based on Punk style and ideology. During this lesson I learnt the style characteristics of a Punk using pages 256- 266 by Dick Hebdige, in Barnard, M, Fashion Theory: A Reader London: Routledge (2007).

Style Characteristics of a Punk

  • Union Jacks- embroidered on the backs of parka coats, or cut up and converted into smartly tailored jackets.
  • T- shirts covered in swear words and terrorist/ guerrilla outfits
  • Inappropriate items- a pin, clothes peg, a TV component, a razor blade, a tampon worn as a earring
  • Lavatory chains dropped on chests, safety pins worn through cheek, trashy fabrics (PVC, plastic, latex)
  • Makeup for both men and women, faces painted abstract
  • Hair dyed (hay yellow, jet black, bright orange)
  • Ripped school uniform- statement of breaking rules
  • Rapist masks and rubber wear, leather bodices, fishnet stockings, pornography


What Can We Learn from the Punks That Can Inform Our Practices?

  • Punks broke the rules of fashion
  • Punks changed the functions of many objects they wore- just like previous subcultures looked at, e.g. Hip Hop, Goths
  • Punks borrowed from the past and present to create their look- like previous case studies
  • Punks wanted to shock people
  • All subcultures shocking at the time they emerged
  • Learnt new words- Bricolage and homology
  • So far, the subcultures we have looked at do not want to look mainstream
  • Meaning’s come from how you use objects and create new meanings (the meaning of bricolage)
  • Subcultures exaggerate in some way or another

How can this be applied to my practice?

  • Everything has a symbolic meaning
  • Traditions used and broke- what functions did it originally have?
  • Breaking rules and over- exaggerating will help my practice be bolder
  • Explain creative decisions of work- why do I do something in a certain way?

Author: emiliasfineartblog

BA (Hons) Fine Art Student studying at Cardiff Metropolitan University

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