David Bowie: eight classic looks – in pictures

by Simon Chilvers / Guardian

12th March 2013

 

David Bowie at the Grammy awards in 1975

David Bowie at the Grammy awards in 1975. Photograph: Ron Galella/WireImage

The tux

Has anyone ever looked more incredible in a tux than David Bowie at the 1975 Grammys? I think not. Will you just look at him in that hat, which is angled just so, with his cheekbone slightly rouged? We all know Bowie could win the prize for the best haircuts in the history of pop music hands down, but his brilliance at using a hat to add mystery and glamour is often overlooked. The lapels on this tux are fantastically wide and of their era, but the white bowtie on a white shirt? That is totally ripe for revival.

Hunky Dory slacks

David Bowie: Hunky Dory

David Bowie promotes Hunky Dory in a pair of slacks that Katharine Hepburn would be proud of. Photograph: Michael Ochs ArchivesDuring the Hunky Dory period, around 1971, Bowie was often seen in bellbottoms, floppy hats and shoes by Terry De Havilland. In his book When Ziggy Played Guitar, Dylan Jones compares Bowie’s “great cheekbones” to those of Katharine Hepburn – and both fashion icons share a fancy for wide slacks worn with a classic shirt sensibly tucked in. It has also been frequently suggested that Hepburn looks like Bowie in the 1935 film Sylvia Scarlett. Meanwhile, in fashion right now, a wider trouser silhouette is brewing – see the spring catwalks of Acne and Lanvin.

2013 reboot

It’s impossible not to gush at the video for The Stars (Are Out Tonight) what with the Tilda-Bowie hair-off, Swinton in a gold shellsuit and visor, Saskia De Brauw rocking vintage Bowie-a-like slacks and Andrej Pejic just generally being fabulous. Bowie himself looks impeccable throughout in a Lanvin suit, a McQueen coat, a mustard cardigan (yellow again) and in a particularly excellent check blazer from the spring/summer Louis Vuitton catwalk. Plus, new black-and-white images of the singer wearing ripped jeans, black jacket and hat, prove that you can do denim in your 60s. Just keep everything else pared back.

Loud suits

David Bowie in a mustard suit

David Bowie cuts the mustard. Photograph: Terry O’Neill/Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesThroughout his career Bowie has embraced suiting that most men, even glossing over his knit catsuits, would file under “snazzy”. The singer favours colourful tailoring in shades of green, cobalt or red, while he has always seemed particularly partial to drop of yellow. This glorious 1970s mustard double-breasted number with turnups, brilliantly styled with a yellow striped shirt, was to be followed by a looser cut two-piece, in an 80s-friendly pastel-lemon hue, during his winning Let’s Dance phase. Even in the early 90s, the Tin Machine years, the singer wheeled out more yellow tailoring. Note: colourful suiting, from Gucci to H&M, is very in this season.

The fancy jacket

David Bowie in a bomber jacket

David Bowie works a fancy bomber jacket. Photograph: Everett Collection/Rex FeatureHigh-waisted white sateen trousers, tucked into a pair of laceup boots, would seem a stretch even on the most racy of catwalks today, but then this outfit was worn on a poster for the Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars tour, when Bowie was at the height of his one-legged-ensembles-and-lashings-of-eye-makeup era. Once you accept the sateen and move on, just have a look at that hair. How many whippersnapper indie singers have taken this picture to the salon? Plus, a patterned jacket, particularly a bomber, is pretty hot right now.

The statement details

The Man Who Fell to Earth

The Man Who Fell to Earth: Bowie shoulder-robes his herringbone tweed. Photograph: StudioCanal/Rex FeaturesHair, cheekbones, hats – check, check, check. But Bowie is also partial to using specs as an outfit exclamation point. Helmut Newton photographed the singer in 1982 wearing a pair of amazing angular metal-framed opticals with a workwear-inspired jumpsuit (very Richard Nicoll autumn/winter 2013). See also The Man Who Fell to Earth in which he wore some quite similarly splendid glasses. In this film, Bowie demonstrated how to shoulder-robe an oversized herringbone coat (very next season), with a trilby.

Minimalism

David Bowie

David Bowie shows his sleek, grey side in 1994. Photograph: Richard Young/Rex FeaturesWhen Bowie isn’t doing flamboyant, alien-weird or bold-as-you-like colour, he often goes sleek and grey. This outfit from 1994 is a triumph of the decade’s minimalism (how 90s is that polo-neck?) but because of the sweeping lines of the coat, it is just the right side of boring. In fact, this shape is very much the mannish silhouette favoured in recent years by Stella McCartney or Phoebe Philo for womenswear. In 2005, for Fashion Rocks in New York, Bowie performed in a Thom Brown three-button grey suit, featuring the designer’s trademark cropped trousers, once again proving his knack for choosing ahead-of-the-curve looks.

The trench

David Bowie in Munich in 1976

David Bowie in Munich in 1976, carrying a leather coat. Photograph: Interfoto/AlamyBowie’s late-70s Berlin period is said to have inspired his new album The Next Day. It is also provides countless brilliant images of the singer in black trenchcoats worn belted tight at the waist, so the coat’s skirt flares out over wide trousers. FYI: there’s something quite Bowie-Berlin-ish about the last Raf Simons menswear collection for Jil Sander from autumn/winter 2012, with its strict leather coats. The other top trench Bowie moment is a picture from 1980 taken by Masayoshi Sukita, who has photographed Bowie for over 40 years. Camel, belted, worn with a collar and loose tie, and accessorised with a very au courant portfolio, this trench look is almost a pre-cursor to 80s power dressing – but cooler. Obviously.

The David Bowie Is exhibition at the V&A museum in London runs from 23 March-11 August 2013

 

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1 Comment

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One response to “David Bowie: eight classic looks – in pictures

  1. Eva-Maria Hamann

    I saved an printed it. It’s a wonderful selection!

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