Fashion Bytes

Poly Styrene, 1957 – 2011

With all the pomp and fanfare surrounding the Royal Wedding, Poly Styrene‘s passing went practically unnoticed.  But not entirely.  Mimi at Threadbared posted three videos from Poly and her band, X-Ray Spex with a short, simple thank you for all she had done for the “others” of the world. Irenebrination weighed in, as did Worn Journal. Styrene, herself once said in an interview that X-Ray Spex most successful song, “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!” was inspired by bondage trousers designed by Vivienne Westwood.

The importance of punk and alternative culture, and those who push the boundaries is a topic that is frequently discussed here at Worn Through.  It is also a popular topic within fashion studies in general.  Monica, of course, has written several times about various icons, such as Malcolm McLaren, as well as the many, many aspects of her research.  Recently Jenna discussed the still-prevalent punk influence in Manchester and its place in the textile and fashion museums there, and the influence of punk on Japanese fashion was discussed in Lauren’s interview with Yuniya Kawamura.  Conferences and calls-for-papers almost seem to address the influence and attire of subcultures more than that of mainstream.

What are your opinions on her very quiet, dignified passing?  Do they contradict her life as a punk musician, or emphasize what was important about her life?  What is our fascination with those who push the boundaries and question the establishment?  Are we voyeuristic or admiring/envying those who have the courage to do what we only imagine?

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Available now: Punk Style by Worn Through founder, Monica Sklar, PhD. Find it at :, Powell's Books, or a bookseller near you.