Why David Bowie is on the list of style icons

Written by Samuel Spencer

I am told that at the age of two my two favourite outfits were a Captain Scarlet costume and my mum’s snakeskin boots.

I am told that at the age of two my two favourite outfits were a Captain Scarlet costume and my mum’s snakeskin boots. I would happily toddle around the house in this sassy little costume for houser tending to be a crime fighting captain cowboy, and any attempt to put me into real child clothes would be met with at best tantrums and at worse naked rampages through the house.

It seems that from the beginning it was destined I would take my fashion inspiration not from the traditional fashion world, but from the world of dressing up. So it made sense that when I was old enough to start really understanding fashion I would take my inspiration not from the thigh-gapped fashionistas or from the tired smart casual clichés of Oasis and Blur that were all around me, but from the Glam Rock toy box of perhaps Britain’s greatest ever solo musician and performer, David Bowie.

An amazing economy

When I’m not still running around the house in a naked rampage, that is…

If nothing else, taking David Bowie as a style icon offers you an amazing economy. Whereas other icons have one signature look – Marilyn Monroe’s blonde curls, Kate Moss’s ‘crack addict with a credit card’ look – Bowie offers you more for your money. If you wake up wanting to be an outer space pirate, there’s a look for that. Fuhrer with a fashion sense, he’s got you covered. And if you want to be king of the goblins…

Well, let’s just forget about that one actually, but it’s there. No one is able to work a wool jumpsuit quite like him, and he almost made the mullet a good look (…almost.) Put simply, without Bowie there is no modern fashion scene. No Tilda Swinton and her androgynous appeal, no Vivienne Westwood and her outrageous punk and New Romantic collections, and men’s tailoring would still be somewhere around the top hat, the monocle and the pantaloons.

Only one picture on the wall

There’s a reason Hedi Slimane’s office has only one picture on the wall, of Bowie at the 1975 Grammys. He’s almost completely skeletal at this point, with a suicidally high cocaine intake, but still rocks a tux like no one else in the room.

What I treasure most from him style-wise, however, is perhaps his most important underlying message, present in all his greatest work, from ‘Space Oddity’ to his excellent album of this year ‘The Next Day’: why accept the everyday when you can create something fantastic?

That Dancing in the Street video

Why just chuck on a pair of (horror of horrors) chinos when you can, as the song ‘Starman’ puts it, blow our minds? And although I never go as far myself as the full woollen jumpsuit myself (I just don’t have the thighs for it,) every time I put on a jauntier than usual leather jacket, mix a macho look with feminine accessories, or heckle someone carrying a Topshop bag, I’m doing it in the spirit of the Thin White Duke.

And sometimes (often) I look ridiculous, but then even David Bowie himself did that ‘Dancing in the Street’ video…

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