As the world mourns the loss of one of it’s most beloved pop icons, we at Madison Lake want to take a look at what Sir David Bowie did for the sexuality of fashion.
When he burst upon the scene wearing classy Mod suits in the late sixties he was only a teenage boy with stars in his eyes. His first re-invention was changing his name from Davy Jones (already taken by the Monkee) to David Bowie, inspired by Texan folk hero James Bowie and his infamous knife. In London, he studied dance and theatre which led him to reimagine his image as a performer in a variety of ways. His early gigs were a mix of music, mime and acting – mostly in TV commercials.
Bowie’s next look was publicly revealed on the cover of his 1970 album, The Man Who Sold The World. The wavy haired showman is casually splayed across a silky chaise lounge in a perfectly tailored Asian-inspired maxi dress, proudly displaying his first foray into the gender blending androgyny of clothing.
Shortly afterwards, Bowie’s most memorable character was launched with the 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Rocking fire engine red spiky hair, bright slim-fitted jumpsuits and scarves galore, he achieved an otherworldliness that had not not been seen before. And he was just getting started. Next up was Aladdin Sane, or as he explained it, Ziggy goes to America, adding a rainbow lightning strike across his face, billowing sequinned harem pants, and of course more jumpsuits- designed by Kansai Yamamoto of Japan.
Swinging his style pendulum from the color-packed costumes of Ziggy, Bowie (now apparently surviving on cocaine and soul music) created The Thin White Duke. Although he was now classically dressed in tailored suits, suspenders and hats reminiscent of 1940s Hollywood he still exuded the same sly and curious modern sexuality that always defines Bowie style.
Trying to drop his self destructive habits in the late-1970s Bowie relocates to Berlin and pairs down, dropping the drugs, sequins and jumpsuits in favour of a relaxed yet modern look of *gasp* jeans and button down shirts!
Though his last 35 years did not create as many memorable characters as did his first 15, he certainly didn’t slow down his reinvention. From The Goblin King in Labyrinth to The Pierrot in his Ashes to Ashes video Bowie constantly presents quotients of his past present and future selves to his audiences.