the Milan Fashion Week menswear previews last month, designers paid tribute to the late David Bowie by celebrating the androgyny that his style was synonymous with.
Fashion designer Peter Dundas, who presented his line for Roberto Cavalli’s men’s fall/winter collection, was quoted as saying, “Bowie’s almost always on my mood board. It felt like the beginning of the end of something very, very important, stylistically and musically and in iconography as well.” Presenting at the same show, Donatella Versace also drew inspiration from the star for her latest collection. However, the fact that the music legend has had an impact on fashion is hardly new.
Besides being an iconic rock star, Bowie was also a renowned style icon who influenced fashion in a big way. For him, nothing was off limits – eye patches, skinny pants, makeup and sequined onesies, all made their way into his wardrobe as he introduced the androgynous look in the 70s. Even when he traded his crazy clothes in for a more refined look – blazers, wide trousers and retro fedoras – his choices seemed fresh, stylish and loud.
The Starman singer opted for creative looks that were a perfect match for his musical style and also reinvented himself with every album release. His various alter egos, such as the Thin White Duke, Alladin Sane, Ziggy Stardust and Major Tom Jack, were all very different from each other, with each having its own unique style and look. Bowie’s most lasting impact on fashion was perhaps his interpretations of what masculinity should look like. The notions of gender fluidity that fashion and popular culture are engaged with today were presented on stage by Bowie 40 years ago in his performances. Here are a few examples of his lasting impact on fashion.
David was a master of reinvention, and he never got it wrong. I feel very fortunate to say that he was both a friend and a customer.
– Paul Smith
He showed us a totally different way of being and expressing a personality through fashion and music. And yet, there was always privacy – a private side and a flamboyant side. He influenced so many people, and certainly me.
– Christopher Bailey, CEO, Burberry
Bowie was a great artist and a timeless fashion icon … who will always remain a reference.
– Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel
Bowie inspired me by his creativity, his extravagance, his sense of fashion that he was constantly reinventing, by his allure, his elegance and his androgyny.
– Jean-Paul Gaultier
Each of his projects are seen as individual pieces of work and have all become iconic, which is a huge inspiration for us. In… print, colour, silhouette, style, boldness – he has touched every single designer.
– Humberto Leon, co-creative director, Kenzo
My recent Moschino men’s show opened with Bowie-inspired silhouettes. Thinking of the Thin White Duke… with both admiration and sadness.
– Jeremy Scott
I was born with a David Bowie album in my hand. He was Adam, and Angie Bowie was Eve, to me.
– YSL designer Hedi Slimane
More than one of my collections had been directly inspired by Bowie’s style and attitude.