There's something fascinating about sub-cultures. Maybe it's the romanticism of youthful rebellion and diehard loyalty, or, perhaps, just the appeal of a bunch of nattily coordinated outfits - who doesn't admire the Prada-esque embellishments of the Pearly Kings and Queens?
From Nick Knight's own Skinheads, an exploration of the aesthetics and activities of skinheads in East London in 1979-1980, to John Paul Gaultier's Clash-tastic punk couture show from Spring/Summer 2011, deviant groups and underground movements have long inspired creative work. Queen of fashionable punk has to be Vivienne Westwood, who jumped on the rebel-culture bandwagon way before the rest of the fashion-pack caught on.
Punk, in fact, is far from dead. Today, fashion is having a love affair with the movement. Prolific models such Alice Dellal and Abbey Lee are lauded for their elfin-punk beauty, and designers such as Henry Holland and Jeremy Scott push punk season upon season. Even Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, the bastion of neat tweeds and Parisian elegance, got into the London spirit by presenting a punk inspired offering for the recent pre-spring/summer 2013 cruise collection. The resultant opulence was a spectacularly obscene Marie Antoinette meets Sid Vicious vision. Maybe it can all be put down to Jubilee-fever - 'God save the queen' and all that.
Committed punk fans, tired of these mere sartorial odes, will be thrilled that the best ages of the movement are being given due respect in a new book and exhibition celebrating the work of photographer Simon Barker (aka Six). A member of the 'Bromley Contingent' from 1976 to 1977, Barker spent his youth backstage, capturing the very first punk concerts on camera. His previously unseen images - featuring cult favourites such as Jordan, Siouxsie Sioux, Poly Styrene and Adam and the Ants - document the earliest foundations of punk. You'll be treated to candid shots of punk icons partying in their pokey bedrooms and kitchens, experimenting with the styles of dress that later became famous, albeit at this stage relying on their grandmothers’ castaways. The accompanying book offers an extended selection from Barker’s unpublished archive, as well as notes from those who experienced the primitive days of punk first hand.
For an immediate fix of rebel-goodness check out SHOWstudio's own tributes to punk. Revisit PUNKATURE to see Knight and stylist Alister Mackie team up to juxtapose the beautiful fashions of Autumn/Winter 2011 against the savage grace of punk, or check out Head-Dressing from 2010 to see avant-garde hairstylist and designer Charlie Le Mindu create a headpiece live in SHOWstudio, accompanied by a performance by French experimental art-punk band La Chatte.
Punk's Dead will run from 8 June until 7 July 2012, from 12:00 to 21:00, at DIVUS Temporary, 4 Wilkes Street, London E1 6QF.