David Bowie: A Fashionable Tribute

Whether he was rocking a silver metallic zip-through jacket for the movie Love You Till Tuesday or casually performing in a multi-colored quilted ensemble and red boxer boots on ITV television show Lift Off, David Bowie was a king of self-invention. This month we mark the second year since the musician and a cultural icon died aged 69. Inarguably a fashion chameleon, Bowie shocked, stunned and amazed with his unique self-expression, creative energy and sexual ambiguity. Skilfully portraying his Ziggy Stardust persona, David Bowie managed to change the way the world defined a rock star. Mirrored countlessly since his passing, his style became eternal. In all its colorful and sparkling glory, it endured passigness and became a synonym for popular culture and timeless fashion.

While reminiscing eye patches, shaved eyebrows, vibrant makeup, tight costumes and other countless times Bowie pushed boundaries, words of Agnès B. come to mind. A year ago, while interviewing her in Japan, she said to me that “Bowie was one-of-a-kind in everything he did. He was an amazing friend, a great performer, a loving human being. For 25 years I took care of his appearance and designed numerous outfits for his performances. Though immensely eccentric on stage, he was a normal, modest, discrete person behind it.” There was not much that he did not try— from embroidered coats, to silk printed polo necks— and he did it so effortlessly. Bowie’s personal zeitgeist became a revolutionary movement, one so powerful that it remains fashion’s past and future. Describing himself as a being from another planet, he constantly asked to be reinvented. Bowie’s fashion style evolved along with his music, starting from rigid British lines in the mid 1960’s, rugged and stylish industrial look in the 1980’s, to garish statement pieces in the late 1990’s. He was all but boring. Speaking of, there is this one quote that remains, almost prophetical in its meaning. “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” Bowie stated this in 1997 in Madison Square Gardens on his 50th birthday. He went on, and the world lost its (most fashionable) hero. Bon voyage, Mr. Starman!

“There’s a brand new dance
But I don’t know its name
That people from bad homes
Do again and again
It’s big and it’s bland
Full of tension and fear
They do it over there but we don’t do it here

Fashion! Turn to the left
Fashion! Turn to the right
Oooh, fashion!
We are the goon squad
And we’re coming to town”

David Bowie- Fashion, a track from his 1980 album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)

Cover photo credit: Slate