David Bowie has been making some of the best rock 'n' roll ever for more than 50 years and he has been looking on the cutting edge all along. His looks ranged from classic menswear to avant-garde costumes and his clothes, hair and makeup were always flawlessly put together, curated with artistic accuracy.
Bowie shows us a powerful example of clothing and style that are hyper-relevant to the music being produced, and vice versa. His music and his style informed and supported the other and stepped this combination into the realm of true performance art. The advent of MTV and the growing sophistication of music video concepts and production in the early 1980s cemented music and fashion together forever and kicked off the new pop incarnation of Bowie. That special David Bowie gestalt that meets the style of music that started in the 1970s emerged fully in the 1980s and has continued to transform, highlighting him as a highly influential and prescient style icon.
Bowie released the LP "Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)" in 1980. The iconic "Ashes To Ashes" video introduced Bowie's shimmering, tattered new clown character Pierrot and set him at odds with him in the simple classic men's style from the 1980s and in spacesuits in both pre-Chronenberg and sadomasochistic styles.
Bowie's proto-gothic nun choir appears to be an uncle style of Siouxsie Sioux and Robert Smith, their crosses will later appear on heavy metal dudes while the bustier and full skirted girl reminds us that we are now in the back. 1950s-1980s. This girl's style later morphs into Madonna and Cyndi Lauper's shared silhouette of crinoline bustier.
The imaginative and androgynous New Romantic look took hold after Bowie experimented with this style and influenced other musicians in the early 1980s. This neo-Victorian dandy exaggeration wore lace neck ties, patterned shirt cuffs, velvet waist and overcoats, and jewelry decorated with heavy eye makeup influenced Roxy Music, Prince, and Adam Ant. Women sported the men's look while more men put on their eye makeup, making this look an opportunity to continue the androgyny of the 80s, even though our trendsetter Bowie had perfected this look in the early 70s. Experimental disguise, makeup on men, and more makeup on all became more common after New Romanticism, as shown by Boy George of the Culture Club.
The (obviously) "Fashion" video features Bowie and the band in what would become spot on 80s trends of pleated "paper bag" waist trousers, military-inspired jumpsuits, stand-up collar shirts, cuffs where possible, stripes, bright primary colors and a permed mullet or two. The "Fashion" video is also a great example of the interesting styles appearing in the gray areas decades from now. Bowie's audience and extras show us some post-club and pre-workout looks, as well as Bowie himself showing a very 70s bare chest under a heavily unbuttoned shirt.
"Scary Monsters" and his 1983 and 1984 records, "Let's Dance" and "Tonight", brought the stage characters of Bowie Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane from the 70s into a more trendy, hip and street-style iteration. . "Let's Dance" was more pop and mainstream than his previous records, which is reflected in his clothing styles these days. Bowie's style here gracefully returns to masculine classics that made a comeback in the 1980s, such as elegant 1940s-inspired dresses with chunky shoulders and anchored trousers, waistcoats, non-knotted bow ties worn loose around the neck and buttoned suspenders. The rich and collegiate "preppie" look has appeared on Bowie now with layered shirts and striped ties.
David Bowie was as rooted in style and fashion as he was in making music. He sees him as a funky pioneer of performance art in the most literal sense of the word. Bowie's creativity and style will continue to be a source of confidence and inspiration.
Ghostwriter: Dark side of Barbie
Credits images: from web