Constellation SLTS – 5/8

1970s British Punk

How you can represent anti-authoritarian rule breaking through the way you dress.

  • Sex Pistols analysis – God Save the Queen – Jamie Reid

Sex pistol God save the queen font?

Punk owes a lot of its style to 1920s Dadaism


(columns analysis goes here)

Style as bricolage

  • Conspicuously take random elements that aren’t seen as interconnected and construct something with them. (resignification of various styles and looks)
  • There is no limited extent to which these elements can be structured rendering the possibilities for new ensembles, infinite.
  • Coherence of attributes isn’t necessary to create a style as primitive thinking is the creator of said styles. They are not built strictly using logic.
  • Objects can be picked out for their connotations but their connotations can also be changed to fit.


Punk style

  • Entirely nihilistic style with no set grievance or cause, simply an anti-movement, the movement that symbolized a lack of symbolism
  • Shirts and coats adorned with offensive language, designed specifically to be shocking.
  • Wearing random items purely for the controversy, razor blades, clothes pegs, tampons etc.
  • Safety pins used as piercings through the nose, ear and even cheek
  • Cheap fabrics, PVC, plastic, lurex
  • Drain pipe jeans and miniskirts
  • Make up worn, not to enhance, but to be seen as makeup and used like face paint.
  • Bondage gear and stuff – leather masks etc.
  • Traditional notions of appearance and acting were trashed
  • Hair Dye


Style as homology

  • Punk was a style based on disorder, but this could only be achieved through a carefully ordered ideal look.
  • What you wear and how you dress becomes part of who you are
  • Anti- traditional values statement – beauty, attractiveness, desirability.
  • Key to punk style remains elusive
  • Chaos that gives a meaningful image of a whole
  • Punk questions what is normal by doing the exact opposite


What have we learned from the Punks that can inform our practice?


Checklist of concepts, approaches and theories

  • Outrage at the establishment
  • Causing discussion and debate by their actions and style
  • Challenging traditional notions of decency and proper behaviour
  • Reinventing the idea of style with an anti-style of their own
  • Question the accepted rules


What does this case study have in common with previous studies? What are we learning about subcultures?

  • All these subcultures have meanings
  • They seek to turn the status quo on its head
  • Using all sorts of things as jewelry, like hip-hop does
  • Every subculture makes use of objects – clothes and jewelry



Author: David Rothwell

I am a Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan School of Art and Design If you like any of my work, have feedback (good or bad) or would like to get in touch, please do

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