Tuesday 3 April 2012

Katie - Construction of Style

Construction of Style

Skinheads, Punks and other subcultures are all very much influenced by the cultural elite. Key figures helped this along including celebrities especially bands like The Sex Pistols with the Punk subculture. 

Punks had a subversive dress code - anti-taste, ugliness and included a subversion of the mainstream cultural signs e.g. Union Jack, Swastika and tattoos. 

There was a lot of use of collage and bricolage. The use of the safety pin represents this.
Compared to the clear balance of gender in the mainstream, Punks had an influence of cross gender dress codes. This was also shown in the skinhead subculture as girls tended to shave their heads the same as the boys and they were all likely to dress similar. 

I think this has been adopted today too as a lot of men's fashion is becoming very feminine and vice versa. 
This is something I looked into for one of my previous editorial projects and I found that men's fashion is becoming floral and bright whereas women are becoming more tailored and formal. 

As you can see here this male has even adopted
 a more feminine hairstyle which is a big
comparison to the rules of the Skinheads. 
Here you can see how women have a 'boyish' look
 in the fashion industry as well as short cropped hair.

Bin Men on strike 
In 1979, the binmen went on strike, at a time known as the 'winter of discontent.' This urged the Punk subculture to start wearing bin liners as fashion accesories and to also promote the music label 'Bin Liner Records' that signed a lot of Punk bands at the time. This is an example of Bricolage. 


Bricolage is a post modern term to represent taking elements and regurgitating them to create something new. This was used a lot in the Punk subculture. 

In his essay "Subculture: The Meaning of Style", Dick Hebdige discusses how an individual can be identified as a bricoleur when they "appropriated another range of commodities by placing them in a symbolic ensemble which served to erase or subvert their original straight meanings". The fashion industry uses bricolage-like styles by incorporating items typically utilised for other purposes. This has happened ever since Punks created DIY fashion.

The Safety Pin is a great example of how items were used for other purposes than what they were intended. During emergence of Punk Rock in the late seventies, safety pins became associated with the genre, its followers and fashion. Some claim the look was taken originally from Richard Hell who the British punks saw in pictures, and whose style they adopted. (Cultural Elite) This is disputed by a number of artists from the first wave of British punks, most notably Johnny Rotten, who insists that safety pins were originally incorporated for more practical reasons. British punk fans, after seeing the clothing worn by such punk forerunners, then incorporated safety pins into their own wardrobe as clothing decoration or as piercings, shifting the purpose of the pins from practicality to fashion. The safety pin subsequently has become an image associated with Punk rock by media and pop-culture outlets.

Jamie Reid & The Sex Pistols
Jamie Reid is an artist whose work, featuring letters cut from newspaper headlines in the style of a ransom note, defines the image of Punk Rock. His best known works include The Sex Pistols album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols and the singles "Anarchy in the UK" and "God Save the Queen". The God Save the Queen piece was based on a Cecil Beaton photograph of the Queen with an added safety pin through her nose and swastikas in her eyes. The design was then changed into a ransom note style with the Union Jack as a background.

The song was released during the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977. It was a very controversial piece and regarded as an assault on the Queen. 

Linder Sterling also adopted the bricolage designs. 

- energy & urgency
- deliberately crude
- hand drawn/collage
- cheaply printed
- lettering (ransom/stencil)

- anti corporate
- provocative
- powerful symbols
- ironic use of celebrity signs

Punks adopted the idea of spitting at bands to show their appreciation for them. This is a big difference to the mainstream. It would now be seen as something to get arrested for in society and is seen as a negative act. Amphetamine and Speed, amongst other drugs, were taken to keep you up all night - dancing and po-going. 

However amateur you were, there was always an opportunity for DIY in fashion, music, design and fanzines. This DIY theme was kept throughout the subculture and is still around today. Punks had the opportunity to participate in concerts where a relationship grew larger between an audience and performer which made the influence stronger. 

Here is an example of Demytstification. This is the XTC Record Cover. It may look amateur but the idea behind it is very important - to get you to read it. 

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