Every year, my invitation to the Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art gets lost in the mail. It’s such a shame, because I would wear a real costume to match the party theme, instead of one of the generically pretty designer dresses that so many guests fall back on. Remember the superhero-themed gala in 2008? Everyone wore strapless. How the fuck was that superhero-worthy?
This year’s exhibit is “Punk: Chaos to Couture.” I’ve been fascinated by punk since it emerged in the late ’70s (though I’m just a poseur myself) and it has never lost its appeal for me. You can see punk’s impact all over my WENDYB by Wendy Brandes jewelry line, with its Épater-la-bourgeoisie-style “Screw You” and IDGAF message jewelry.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the invitees are bewildered. “No one has a clue,” said my old friend Cameron Silver, whose Los Angeles-based vintage store Decades has provided me with all kinds of interesting clothes over the years. “We keep running into the same problem, which is that rich women don’t want to look punk, or grunge,” Cameron told the Times. “Not that many women want to look like Nancy Spungen.” Revered New York Times fashion reporter Cathy Horyn couldn’t even come up with any punk-worthy jewelry (and, yes, I tweeted, emailed and called her with all of my offerings, to no avail. I’m sad that she’s missing out).
I know exactly what I would wear. A few people have guessed Adam Ant, but I wouldn’t repeat an outfit for a big event like this. I was, however, thrilled to read that the few real punk t-shirts the Met has on display are from his collection. Love you, Adam!
Nope, my Met Gala inspiration would be punk goddess Wendy O. Williams (initials spell W.O.W. for good reason!) from the Plasmatics. Wendy’s signature looks included a mohawk and nipple tape.
Sometimes she opted for nipple weaponry instead.
A lot of recent pop stars have been inspired by Wendy O.’s nipple swag. Pink, Rihanna and Lady Gaga have all done nipple tape or a tape look. I happily bought a nipple-tape concert t-shirt at one of Gaga’s shows in 2010.
Beyonce’s sequin-nipple bodysuit by The Blonds is a clever take on the concept: covering nipples with more nipples! And nipple weaponry is still a thing: Gaga shoots flames out of her breasts, while Katy Perry prefers whipped cream. But has any one of these ladies given us hot nipple fashion while blowing up cars onstage or taking a chainsaw to a guitar? I think not! There are some great Plasmatics performance clips complete with chainsaw online, but if exploding school buses smashing through walls of television sets are more your style, don’t miss the 1982 video for the Plasmatics’ song, “The Damned.”
Obviously, my Wendy O. Williams costume for the Met Gala would require a nearly nude look. Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci did nude catsuits for the Paris National Opera Ballet.
I’d need to remove the white lace from the front so that it wouldn’t distract from my black nipple tape.
I’ve already got black leather bikini bottoms …
… and I have a choice of over-the-knee boots. I’ve got “patent leather” thigh highs from Trash and Vaudeville and a suede pair, but I’d go with the leather ones because they best match the bikini bottom.
I’d prefer to create a mohawk from my own hair — and it would be time to do some bleaching — but if I couldn’t get the desired height, I’d be okay with a headpiece like this one from the punk capsule collection at Moda Operandi (Why is my jewelry not in that collection? Shoulda been.)
Obviously, I’d be covered in my own jewelry. I’m spoiled for choice when it comes to that! But, for a change, the jewelry wouldn’t be my most important accessory. The chainsaw would definitely steal the show.
I would need to spray-paint that chainsaw because red wouldn’t work with the rest of my ensemble. Do you think it would be a problem getting it through the metal detector? I’d just say it was my purse, I guess.
Wendy O. Williams once said:
“Basically, I hate conformity. I hate people telling me what to do. It makes me want to smash things. So-called normal behavior patterns make me so bored, I could throw up!”
Sadly, Wendy isn’t around to projectile vomit over the idea of Metropolitan Museum co-opting punk. She committed suicide by shooting herself in the head 15 years and one month ago today. She was 48 years old, and it was her third effort to end her life. Her partner and one-time manager, Rod Swenson aka Captain Kink, said Wendy found it hard to live a normal life past her prime, though she did love rehabilitating wildlife near their Connecticut home. The obituary for Wendy in Rolling Stone included a quote from an interview she gave the magazine in 1981:
“…the essence of what we do is shaking up the middle class; I think if you don’t do that with your music, you’re just adding to the noise pollution.”
How great would it be if even one person showed up at the Met Gala with the intention of shaking things up? Someone who’d rip some clothes off the mannequins, overturn a few tables and step on Anna Wintour’s foot? That would make it the party of the year for real. Please, somebody! Do it for Wendy O.!
Note: A link to a previous New York Times story on the punk exhibit is in this post. Great photos, including Debbie Harry in a … wait for it … black leather bikini bottom.
Ohhhh, so many things I want to say!
First, I cannot believe you and I are not going to this gala because we should obviously be invited and, more importantly, we would KNOW what to wear and not be afraid to wear it.
Wendy O. was definitely one-of-a-kind. I’m pretty sure she would just wear nipple tape and nothing else to the event. Or, perhaps she’d invest in some Swarovski encrusted nipple clamps for a formal event.
LOL over the Home Depot chainsaw.
So, I’ll be the first one to ask… where is the photo of you modeling those bikinis and boots? Hmmmm?
I can’t share that photo, it might detract from when I wear the whole ensemble out in public for some non-Met Gala occasion (birthday? parents’ anniversary?). Don’t want to spoil the surprise, you know.
Jet aka Punk Glam Queen says
Wendy O. Wild was such a sweet, gentle person with a great sense of humour, completely opposite of her stage persona (which was electric!) You would have loved her, and I love your tribute to her. Dammit now I’m in tears, another one gone too soon. XXX
Yes, I read that about her everywhere. I love that because it goes to show that you can like certain things — music, style, whatever — but there’s so much more going on.
um, dare I say, wow? So much information here, Brandy. And you are so hilarious! as always. I had heard of wendy before, but not in such detail. Personally, I would not be aboard the nipple tape trend, except maybe over a shirt like you have here. I’m just a bit too shy that way, I suppose.
I used to be much more shy than I am now!
mary panjari says
I find the whole Met/Punk thing ridiculous. WTF? Also who cares what rich, celebs wear to try to be punk. It’s fucking irrelevant and an oxymoron. Also Cathy H is a moron for not taking up the offer of your jewels.
At least Debbie Harry was invited, what about Richard Hell or David Byrne or any of the remaining Dead Boys? I grew up in Melbourne but was an avid follower of the punk scene and active in the Melb one. It was my dream to go to CBGBs and it was one of the first places I visited when I finally got there in 1991. OMG I am so annoyed.
mary panjari says
Also, yes there is more, lol, I would have loved to have seen you there in the WendyO costume. OMG that woulda been fucking awesome!
Jet aka Punk Glam Queen says
There are so many people from the original CBGB/ Mudd Club scene (I was there, sorry you missed the glory days, but at least you got there!) that could’ve been invited for some authenticity. But they don’t want authenticity they want a star-studded event. Period. Back in the punk days rich women would try to buy the clothes off my back to try to be “cool”. They’d always ask where I bought my clothes. “We don’t buy. We make” We were the DIY’ers because NY was in shit, no one had money. But still, it was glorious to have been a part of it, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Why these rich women couldn’t have read up a bit and seen that DIY aspect and come up with their own interpretations — especially with the resources available to them — is beyond me. Oxymoron is absolutely correct. XXX PS I know the remaining Dead Boys wouldn’t have shown, it would be too “establishment” for them. Now if Stiv & Divine were alive, they would have gone as a couple to take the piss… oh boo now I’m sad again, miss Stiv.
Meanwhile, Anne Hathaway was wearing four letter rings and I can’t get my damn rings on any of these people. Sigh.
mary panjari says
Wow I wonder if you know my friend Cherry who worked and hung out at CBGBs during those halycon days? She still lives in E2nd st(joey ramone place) just around the corner.
Jet aka Punk Glam Queen says
The only Cherry I remember is Cherry Vanilla. But my memory sucks, and if I see a face then I remember, so its quite possible! Everyone knew everyone if only by face, it wasn’t as huge as a scene as it got later. XXX PS Wendy, I didn’t notice that about Anne Hathaway, that SUCKS!!! She def should’ve gone to the source! Ah don’t like her anyway. (;
The blonde hair is working for her, I’d say.
Susan Partlan says
You would look adorable in a mohawk.
It’s a classic hairstyle!
Hm…I’m not sure about a leather bikini with leather thigh high boots. Isn’t that too much leather on leather? Maybe one of the pieces should be rubber? You don’t want to be too matchy-matchy. 🙂
There can never be too much leather!
Man, i so hope someone threw a beer bottle or three during the event…
Please, beer is too low classy for this crowd!
It’s a great post between a lot of typical “who what wore on the Met gala”-articles on the blogoshpere. Thanks for sharing. 😀