I wasn’t even born when David Bowie’s first hit ‘Space Odyssey’ crept towards the charts on the eighth of August 1969. My first experience of Bowie was his performance as the eccentric Goblin King in George Lucas’s Labyrinth and as a young girl I was electrified by his voice and enigmatic stage performance. Which brings me to the V&A today to browse the DAVID BOWIE IS exhibit.
Bowie might just be fashion’s most influential man. His famous personas – Ziggy, Aladdin, and the Duke – have inspired collections for some of the major fashion houses making him a style icon.
David Bowie first caught the public’s eye in 1972 with the release The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. He took on the persona of Ziggy Stardust, a human manifestation of an alien trying to save the world from certain destruction. Ziggy sported a red mullet, glam costumes, and lots of makeup (most famously a large gold circle on his forehead). For his next album, Bowie morphed Ziggy into Aladdin Sane – a play on words for “a lad insane.” The biggest change in his look was the shift from the gold makeup to the infamous lightning bolt.
After 1973, Bowie began the transition from Aladdin Sane to the Thin White Duke; and in 1976, Bowie released Station to Station introducing the world to his newest persona. The Thin White Duke was always impeccably dressed with slicked back hair. This change in persona came with a change in Bowie’s musical style. The Thin White Duke brought funk and soul to Bowie’s music.
Bowie has left an indelible stamp on the look, the style the sounds and attitudes of his time. One of the most innovative performers of the last fifty years, no words can fully explain the feeling it gives you to walk through this exhibit with original costumes and live footage playing in the background. It’s like walking through culture and time itself.