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Music star and fashion icon, David Bowie was an artist in every sense of the word. His sudden passing last month, after a secret eighteen-month battle with cancer, left the world rocked. His fans; diverse in age, gender and celeb status, were all brought together in their grief, as a crowd gathered for a spontaneous street party in Brixton, Bowie’s London birth place, belting out his greatest hits into the night. SCAN Fashion is also commemorating David Bowie by looking back at his style statements, celebrating not just the man, but the legend.
Heralded as the greatest self-inventor, David Bowie was constantly reinventing himself. From his various personas and alter egos as a Mod rocker, a mellow hippy, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Thin White Duke, Bowie ensured that in an industry that focuses so heavily on image, he was always relevant.
Starting his career in the early sixties, Bowie joined and left multiple different bands playing rock and roll and blues music. Using his birth name to perform, Davie Jones was a trendsetter from the beginning. A Mod rocker, he started the trend for tapered leg trousers at his high school and dyed his hair with food colouring. Often sporting the classic shirt and tie look with his mop-top haircut, Bowie sometimes customised his clothing, once even hand drawing stripes onto a blazer for a gig.
The end of the decade saw the birth of Bowie and the beginning of the seventies truly welcomed the performer David Bowie who would come to be known for his extravagant dress and outrageous stage presence. Experimenting with the hippy movement, Bowie adopted the look of flowing locks, tops and trousers, even daring to wear maxi dresses and Michael Fish’s aptly named ‘man-dress’ creations.
It wasn’t until 1972 that the world truly started to take notice. And with a new audience came a new transformation, this time a dramatic make over into Bowie’s most recognisable persona – Ziggy Stardust. With asymmetric catsuits, pirate eye patches, lashings of eye liner and his bright orange mullet hairstyle, Bowie truly let his imagination run free and used the character that was Ziggy Stardust to experiment with who he wanted to be as a performer.
Following this, Bowie’s next alter ego was just as colourful. Adopting the stage name of Aladdin Sane, Bowie would take the stage with a brightly decorated lightening bolt painted across his face. This was famously recreated for Vogue’s May 2003 cover as Bowie’s close, personal friend Kate Moss posed for the publication. It was the supermodel who Bowie sent to collect his 2014 Brit Award, and Moss did so in one of Bowie’s vintage costumes, one of the many playsuits he owned in his androgynous wardrobe.
As David Bowie matured, so did his style. The eighties saw the introduction of Thin White Duke, a more sombre look for Bowie. Reminiscent of his Mod days with a muted colour palette, the Thin White Duke had peroxide blonde hair that Bowie wore slicked back, highlighting even more so his sculpted cheekbones, causing people to often draw comparisons between Bowie and Greta Garbo.
Though his later years saw him draw away from the spotlight, possibly in part due to his health issues, Bowie was able to release one final album before his passing. Able to blur the line of gender norms, redefine masculinity, and appeal to both men and women alike, there is no doubt David Bowie is and forever will be an icon. Ultimately, it is this, his artistic creativity – the music and the fashion, for which he will always be remembered. Rest in peace, David Bowie.