A popular internet meme says, “When in doubt, listen to David Bowie. In 1968, Bowie was a gay, ginger, bonk-eyed, snaggle-toothed freak walking around south London in a dress, being shouted at by thugs. Four year later, he was still exactly that - but everyone else wanted to be like him, too. If David Bowie can make being David Bowie cool, you can make being you cool. PLUS, unlike David Bowie, you get to listen to him for inspiration. So you’re one up on him, really. YOU’RE ALREADY ONE AHEAD OF DAVID BOWIE.”
You just had to have been there to see it. A million words on a page or millions of pixels in a photograph do not begin to convey DAVID BOWIE’s impact on both fashion and music. He was indeed freakish when he first came around - a weird mutation from the let-it-all-hang-out generation, forging shock rock into glam rock. Bowie (neè DAVID. JONES) polarized the world during the early 1970s. As ZIGGY STARDUST and the SPIDERS FROM MARS, he was both shocking and irreverent, espousing gender-bending looks and songs that took us places we’d never dreamed of.
But Bowie did not remain a 70s oddity - he was savvy, well-connected, and most of all, deeply talented artist. He reinvented himself multiple times, entertaining us with personas including Aladdin Sane (a play on “A lad insane”); the Thin White Duke; the Man Who Fell to
Earth; and the Elder Statesman.
Throughout it all, Bowie seethed and seduced, writhing and whispering his message to anyone who cared to hear it. He kept himself fresh and current, changing colors at will, like a chameleon. He constantly changed colors and perhaps that was the secret of his seemingly eternal youthfulness. From the brilliant, outré colors of his youth that were splashed across his clothes and his face, screaming out his pain and isolation; to the regal, finely manicured gentleman who, at last, had found his rightful place among the exalted.
Married to supermodel Iman, Bowie was so influential in fashion that after his death, he continued to make himself evident - Burberry played Bowie music as the crowd entered for their Spring/Summer 2016-17… and one enterprising model wrote “Bowie” across his palms. Maison Margiela wore Ziggy Stardust inspired wigs, as well as Bowie-style makeup. At Berlin Fashion Week, designer Riani’s models sported Aladdin Sane-style makeup. Donatella Versace used “Space Oddity” as her menswear finale in Milan. Bowie made music and fashion inseparable.
Having garnered such respect win his lifetime, one wonders how that will hold up after the inevitable spate of tell-all memoirs pop up on his grave like fresh mushrooms.
Velvet Goldmine, anyone?