And the site of a recreated — and dirty — rock club CBGB's bathroom inside the hallowed Met is equally impactful and interesting.
Bowles said punk was the forerunner to grunge, which also made some tastemakers cringe when Marc Jacobs first put it on the runway in the early '90s. Just look at where the flannel shirt and henley T — and Jacobs' prestige — are now, however.
"Punk was so potent and powerful, it was a movement that just clicked," said Bowles. "Even if it was subliminally, it changed how we all think about dressing, even to people who might have been revolted by it at the time."
Bolton said he wanted to represent the two driving forces of punk fashion: the angrier, political statements coming from London punks and the more music-centric, club-kid predecessors in New York. They eventually came together to wear leather garments that played on the themes of peace, love, war, pornography and bondage; hardware decorations such as grommets, studs, zippers and spikes that made them seem tough and untouchable; chaotic silhouettes that put pants where the sleeves should go, fronts where the backs belong and bare spots where one is expecting a little coverage; and materials that quite literally came from the street, including plastic trash bags, discarded newsprint, even mailing envelopes.
Again, there's a paradox in that the rebellious punks could have inspired all the politically correct slogans that remind us to "reduce, reuse and recycle."
Top designers certainly tapped into them, too, with Gareth Pugh's dress that uses bits of garbage bags for a featherlike effect, John Galliano's Christian Dior newsprint dress and the bubble-wrap looks from Alexander McQueen's 2006 Rubbish Collection.
Overt sexuality certainly was part of the punk culture, and how could dramatic designers resist that?
Gianni Versace's safety-pin dress practically made Elizabeth Hurley a household name in 1994, and the red harness gown that Hilary Rhoda wore in the Dior 2007 haute couture show also on display certainly turned heads. Then, there is the barely there finale look by Maison Martin Margiela. To call it minimalist doesn't do it justice.