A closer look at Brit rock fashion -- How punk and the Union Jack created a whole new wardrobe

The Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten mixed furious music and wickedly subversive clothing decades ago, so it’s about bloody time to look at how fashion and Brit rock stars have inspired each other. The Metropolitan Museum of Art kicked things off last month with its AngloMania exhibit, while recent collections from native Alexander McQueen, Dior Homme, and Comme des Garçons all crib punk’s aesthetic. ”[They] never had a revolution,” notes designer Maria Cornejo. ”So they rebel with clothes. After all the boho-chic stuff, what’s better than punk?” Take a look at how the Brits — who know their history — love shredding it all to pieces.

On the cover of his 1997 album, Earthling, David Bowie flaunts a frock coat that only British bad boy McQueen could have fashioned: It boasts tattered Union Jacks and is worn with — skinny-jean precursor! — leg-suffocating pants. McQueen, who loves to fool with traditional British textiles, will revisit tartan territory this fall.

Rotten helped move gobs of repellent merchandise for Sex, the boutique co-owned by designer Vivienne Westwood and boyfriend Malcolm McLaren that launched in 1974. In keeping with his un-PC hits, he slashed his sleeves and wore bondage pants and that requisite sneer. He recently sported some of his own designs at the Met’s posh AngloMania gala.

Witty Brits were among the first to wear their words. Westwood’s Seditionaries line thrived in pre-Thatcher England; her white tees — with rabble-rousing imagery like a photo of Queen Elizabeth with black strips over her eyes and mouth and the declaration ”God Save the Queen” — were a hit. Now kids snap up Union Jack-emblazoned Be@rbricks with the same design.

If there were a power-shoe death match, would you put your money on Manolos or Doc Martens? AngloMania exhibits both, but it’s the thick-soled utilitarian work boot created by German doctor Klaus Maertens in 1960 that became must-wear footwear for a wide swath of Brits and their progeny (mods, Goths, grungers, and today’s emo contingent).