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David Bowie and the Runway

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It is hard to quantify something as abstract and drifting as influence - however, it is an absolute certainty the importance of one of history's most famed musicians on the world of fashion. 

One of Bowie's most famed looks, designed by legendary Japanese designer Issey Miyake

At 13, he experimented with hair dyes and demanded that the pants of his school uniform be taken in (For a second time) to be more skin-tight. A picture of the time shows him capped to perfection, a jacket with three buttons and already wearing pointed boots. And according to his mother, David Bowie was still a baby when he started putting on makeup. Fashion gimmicks revealed by Kevin Cann, archivist of the star, in David Bowie, Any Day Now, the London Years: 1947-1974 (Naïve).

If his career began in 1964 in a rock'n'roll spirit mixed with blues, it was only six years later, on the cover of The Man Who Sold the World, that the young man shaped the androgynous look that would become his lifelong signature. "On the cover, he is dressed as a woman, Lauren Bacall [...] It's not bad but I think his fashion side goes with his music. At the time, his debut was really difficult, he released a few albums without much success, hence its side "I feel still before trying something"", decrypts Jean-Daniel Beauvallet, editor in chief of famed French music magazine Inrocks. At the time of his death in 2016, David Bowie's relationship with fashion was stronger than ever. "We're seeing an ever younger generation of designers or designers discovering or rediscovering Bowie, inspiration taking the past to create the future," said Pamela Golbin, Chief Fashion and Textile Curator at the Museum of Decorative Arts Paris.

Makeup artist Pierre Laroche, who also worked for artists such as Mick Jagger

With his couture collection, presented in January of 2015 in Paris for Dior, Raf Simons paid him a glowing tribute in the background with Moonage Daydream, V-2 Schneider and Wild is the Wind. Geometric jacquard jumpsuits and vinyl boots resuscitated the Ziggy Stardust spirit. At Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane also displayed his love for the singer, with, for example, 70's lace-up leather babies from the "Psych Rock" women's collection, which were quickly adopted by Georgia May Jagger. In 2010, as well, Riccardo Tisci, for Givenchy, opened the presentation of his spring-summer collection with a black and white striped jacket like the one that was made in 1973, by Freddi Buretti, the first costumer of Bowie. In 2011, Jean Paul Gaultier's models wore mulleted hair, dressed in perfectos with oversized epaulettes, and the Vogue France cover of the December issue proudly featured Kate Moss transformed into Ziggy Stardust. Fashion continues to confront characters invented by Bowie, and reproduce the talented pencil strokes of makeup artist Pierre La Roche on the album Aladdin Sane (1973).

Fans will have noticed the more discreet tributes: the mustard yellow suit, symbol of the Diamond Dogs tour in 1974, taken over by Paul Smith for his men's spring-summer 2013 collection, or Tilda Swinton, on the cover of W Magazine, which look like nothing else, evokes the sophisticated cabaret of the albums Station to Station and Stage. And we remember Maje's fall-winter 2013 collector's sweatshirt. Why is this influence so popular? When we think of Bowie, the visual memory is immediately focused on the flaming mullet and the makeup that bar the singer's face on the cover of the Aladdin Sane album. Why does fashion focus on this ephemeral period that only lasted two years, in the rollercoaster of bowiesque looks?

Bowie during his final years in Paul Smith, who was a lifelong friend and collaborator

Because the physical cataclysm and the androgynous look resonates strangely in our day, and annihilates any precedent: "In addition to its physical eccentricity, it is his frenzied individualism that strikes at our time. He does not do what others do and he does not tell others what to do. Each of his appearances says: "Be who you are and besides, you can be who you want," says the curator of the Bowie retrospective, presented initially at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Bowie's first appearance in Ziggy actually dates from January 1972, on the show Top of the Pops, on the BBC (in 1964, he appeared under his name, David Jones, on the show Tonight, as president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men). And that boy who arrived in a quilted two-piece suit designed by Freddie Buretti challenged Puritan England forever.

"This passage in Top of the Pops, with Starman, was a revelation to many people, and for the English it was like switching from black and white after the war to color. as a result, they had the courage to come out to their parents," recalls Jean-Daniel Beauvallet. Bowie's eccentricity spoke for itself and the singer takes advantage of his historical context: "In the early 1970s, England and France are still in the baby-boom years. Icons wanted to adopt a more personal style. The character of Ziggy Stardust falls right into the niche that people desired. The manufacturers are ready to manufacture new generation clothing influenced by music and seek a true style rather than relying on influences"

Moss as Bowie's character Ziggy Stardust

Eccentric and chic, capable of all the exuberance of clothing, Bowie seduces fashion thanks to his personality but also thanks to an impeccably held individuality: in spite of all the excesses, he will always remain the representative of a perfect individual, of himself. As Jerome Soligny points out, his French biographer claimed: "I often compare him to Alain Delon, Plein soleil era, at one point he could do everything, Bowie was careful of him, and it is still a beautiful man when he disappeared from the public eye in 2003. " A manner of chameleon, he is also a body without equal who has never really displayed the weight of years. His reappearance for the album The Next Day showed him aging but still beautiful. It was true too with ★ that Bowie proved a certain immortality in the eyes of designers. The ultimate embodiment of rock - the one who is always ahead of fashion.

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