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The New York Public Library will be closed on Monday, October 12 in observance of Columbus Day.

Popular Music

Punk and the [Anti-]Prom


Every year, my interns and I have the pleasure of working with the students at the High School for Fashion Industries in conjunction with the Library’s wonderful Anti-Prom projects, managed by our colleagues in Teen services.  Moving from the perennial question “what should I wear?”, the staffs of the Performing Arts Museum, the Picture Collection and the Art & Architecture Division work with students and school staff as they design outfits for models or themselves.   The project is now called Project Library and is patterned after a weekly challenge on Project Runway.  They visit us to learn about working with visual research, finding inspiration from books, record jackets, photographs, and all types of things found in the Library’s collections.  The Museum also works with Teen Central on an exhibition of the outfits and inspiration boards here or in the Mid-Manhattan windows.

Past themes have included Goth, Monsters, Super Heroes, and Glam.  This year was Punk.  Even after the obvious jokes about safety pins and ripped jeans, we really doubted whether we could find inspirational images for the students.  The design and draping teachers who serve as advisors trusted that the students could translate what they saw into outfits without relying on black leather jackets or t-shirts.  We find out next week, but I'm sure that the students will astound us with their creations. 

In the past few years, preparing and pre-pulling the Project Library material has become a major project for our Intersession interns.    This year's group took on the challenge and excelled.   Dennise, Taylor, Emma,  and Sam taught me about Punk and learned about research here.   Here's the bookshelf that they compiled.

As well as the books that we pulled from the research and circulating collections, they sorted through photographs of individual performers and groups, magazines for illustrations, and record album covers.   We even found an image of my favorite Punk outfit (or, at least, my favorite Deborah Harry textile) -- a dress printed with 5" repeating graphic spike heels.    Who knew that the Music Division collected so comprehensively in Punk.

Look for the outfits in the Mid-Manhattan windows in July. 


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