Saturday, March 15, 2008

1977 Punk Fashion Couture

So...What are you wearing?

In early 1977, Belinda and Jane started to experiment with fashion.

Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.

Pink Flamingo theatrical release poster

Hollywood punks did not want to copy what punks were wearing in London and New York. London and New York had the dark, heavy clothes which reflected the enviornoment there. The attitude in L.A. was more colorful, light fun and daring  (with an homage to London thrown in). 

david hockney
Fashion had always reflected the social/political and geographical environment from where it was derived.

British punk was aggressive and violent. It demanded immediate change to the political situation and had no interest in working for a solution. The Sex Pistols typified British Punk with such songs as "Anarchy in the UK," (What is Punk article).

British punk fashion reflect an angry youth who were violent and anarchic.

Punks would cut up old clothes from charity and thrift shops, destroyed the fabric and refashioned outfits in a manner then thought a crude construction technique, making garments designed to attract attention.

Torn Fashion becomes Punk Fashion

A great deal of punk fashion from the 1970s was based on the designs of Vivienne Westwood Malcolm McLaren, as well as the dress styles of punk role models such as the Ramones.

Malcolm McLaren,
and fashion profiteer and provocateur, is known both as the manager of the rock band the Sex Pistols and co-owner of Sex on with Vivienne Westwood , the now-defunct London clothing boutique. They sold lots of leather and rubber fetish goods, especially bondage trousers.

American punks, on the other hand, seemed lazy by comparison. It was sarcastic where the English was violent. To be successful, fashion had to reflected the environment.

New York punk was too weird to be purely punk. New York punks were either flamboyant and campy or too overtly intellectualized and dreamy. However, New York bands the Velvet Underground and the New York Dolls maintained a street edge style to their clothing.

New York punks often copied what the Ramones were wearing, which was basically black leather flight jackets, torn jeans, t-shirt and combat boots (or Converse tennis shoes).

Joey Ramone in street tough New York punk couture

Hollywood punks tried to developed their own regional punk fashion, however they looked to England for guidance.

Punks ripped-up clothes because they wanted their insides to be outside.
photos: Jenny Lens

Belinda fashions punk fashion for local fanzine

Hollywood punk fashion reflected a more Hollywood lifestyle, and a warmer, brighter climate than that in London/New York. However punk fashion everywhere was intended to be confrontational, shocking and as rebellious as possible.

Let's face it - Life is basically good!

How to Look Punk fashion suggestions:
  • Cut up t-shirt - then lace or pin it back together
  • Hand paint words on t-shirts (graffiti) then decorate with pins, 1 inch size buttons etc...
  • Jeans with Pins
  • Make vest out of black plastic trash bag, wear over long sleeve t-shirt. Decorate with graffiti.
  • Self Mutilation and Body Piercings
  • Loads of hair or no hair

Hollywood punks took the glamorous Hollywood idea of fashion and gave it a twist. As a result, the fashion was often garish, gaudy and extreme. There was strident color and excessive ornamentation. It was often loud and flashy, but always with a wink to classic Hollywood glamour. This is fun!

Hollywood's icon of glamour

No two outfits were alike. In Hollywood, fashion was all over the place. The bottom line was - it really doesn't matter what you wore since most of the kids didn't have money to spend on clothes.
Alice Bag at the Punk Fashion show

It was all about dressing up and putting on a pose.
Alice Bag, Belinda, Hellin Killer and Pleasant Gehman

August 1977 photo: JennyLens

Discarded glamorous evening clothes were found in thrift stores, re-worked and worn as everyday clothes. Underwear was worn as outerwear. Stockings and fishnets were deliberately torn. Negligees were worn as day wear. Loose, sheer semi-translucent fabrics were trimmed with lace or other fine material and bows.

Alice Bag- fashion provocateur

It was like children playing dress-up with big people's clothes.

Thrift store couture

photo: JennyLens

Trash bag chic with stilettos

photo: JennyLens

Tre Chic

photo: Jenny Lens

Often, hair was cropped and deliberately made to look messy, in reaction to the typical long smooth hair of the 60s and early 70s. It was also often dyed brilliant unnatural colors.

Other standard punk accouterments included:
  • bondage trousers
  • tape
  • ripped fishnets
  • spike bands and other studded or spiked jewelry
  • safety pins in clothing
  • body piercings
  • and pants with leopard patterns
Jane Wiedlin was more into thrift store punk couture.
In 1976 she was a studying fashion design at Los Angeles Trade Technical College.
Punks took advantage of the many thrift stores and church sales in the Hollywood environs... They were especially on the look out for those selling discarded glamour clothes.


The one punk fashion store in Hollywood was called Poseur.

The proprietors were from England and the merchandise was authentic, but it was not home grown. It
didn’t reflect the LA sunshine and glamour. The clothes were heavy and dark. It represented British punk.

1978 Poseur punk clothing store on Sunset




Jenny Lens said...

Kewl post! Thanks for the live links!

Jenny Lens said...

Oh, the "How To Look Punk" photos were taken by ME. So although Alice Bag scanned and posted them, how about a photo cred, please and thanks!

Humaun Kabir said...

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Hardcore Punk Music & Clothing