After more than 40 years traversing the genres of music, film and art, the world is celebrating one of the most iconic (used here with full intention) artists of our time: David Bowie. David Bowie is, produced by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, chronicles David Bowie’s life from South London suburbia through his many self-invented characters that today, have made him a legend and fashion rock royalty. Through costume, archival imagery, sound and film, viewers get an unprecedented look at Bowie’s many inspirations, and his insistence on living life without limits.
Now on a worldwide tour, the exhibition has landed at its only Canadian stop in Toronto at the Art Gallery of Ontario (running now through to November 27th). If you won’t get a chance to head to David Bowie is at the AGO, here are some of the musician’s most outrageous and influential looks to date.
1. 1965: David Bowie then known as Davy Jones outside BBC television with his band The Mannish Boys. This love of English tweed and tailoring continued for the rest of his life, resurfacing later in his career…
2. 1971: Now a solo artist, Bowie had just released his third album and when touring in the US debuted his first androgynous look, a theme he continues to explore to this day. Wearing dresses and flowing tunics. Rolling Stone‘s John Mendelsohn described him as “ravishing, almost disconcertingly reminiscent of Lauren Bacall.”
3. 1972: Bowie released The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and debuted his newest character, Ziggy Stardust. It is said that the idea came while touring in America and is a mash-up of punk icon Iggy Pop with the music of Lou Reed. Bowie considered Ziggy the “ultimate pop idol,” and is arguably his most influential and iconic character. Designers continue to send looks down the runway season after season inspired by Ziggy and most recently was Jean Paul Gaultier.
4. 1973: David Bowie’s now iconic cover of Aladdin Sane –his first number one album. Bowie is now a bonafide rock star.
5. 1973: The beginning of a long and fruitful relationship, Bowie and Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto collaborated on most of Bowie’s outfits while he toured in the early 70s. Both inspired by kabuki theatre, they favoured bright, high impact colours that wowed crowds of Bowie fanatics.
6. 1976: In the late 70s, and the heady atmosphere of the disco era, Bowie returned to his British tailoring roots and created the character The Thin White Duke –an extension of his film character in The Man Who Fell to Earth. This minimalistic, black and white look has inspired the fashion houses of YSL, Gucci, Chloe and Lanvin.
7. 1980: Upon his release of Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), Bowie took to dressing up like Pierrot characters, a pantomime group that performed in Paris in the late seventeenth century.