Punk’s not dead—Joe Corré just burned it. The son of punk pioneers Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, Corré is as close to royalty as it gets, having amassed one of the most prolific punk archives ever. It’s reportedly worth over $5 million, and includes everything from the original Seditionaries shirts to the Sex Pistols very first LP.
And in true anarchist fashion, Corré, who founded Agent Provocateur in 1994, decided to destroy his entire collection in a simultaneous celebration of the 40th anniversary of Anarchy in the U.K., and in protest over the cooption of punk rock. From a homemade barge on the River Thames, he torched some of punk’s most pivotal artifacts, proving that despite its acceptance in mainstream culture, the punk ethos is alive and well—and will never be palatable.
Historians and diehard fans may cringe at the idea, but Corré’s dismissal of punk’s place in the popular canon is a testament to the outsider spirit, especially in a time where Vogue staffers shop on St. Marks and Zayn Malik rocks Doc Martens.
“Punk was never, never meant to be nostalgic,” he shouted as he lit the first match, “and you can’t learn how to be one at a Museum of London workshop. Punk has become another marketing tool to sell you something you don’t need—the illusion of an alternative choice. Conformity in another uniform.”
Westwood was also in attendance, using the opportunity to encourage viewers to accept green energy and join the fight against climate change. The mother and son duo reminisced on the origins of punk while lamenting over its evolution, urging the audience to embrace the DIY spirit and forget about the whitewashed version of Punk Lite that’s now in taught in high school history books. What began as rebellion became a reclamation of the subculture—a call to arms.
“Confront taboos, do not tolerate hypocrisy,” Corré yelled in front of the flames, “investigate the truth for yourself.”
Listen to Vivienne Westwood’s speech and watch Corrè burn punk’s history, below.