David Bowie has died aged 69. This iconoclastic artist defined British culture over an impressive span of five decades with blazes of bold image transformations, poignant music and cutting-edge political and social commentary. Bowie exploded onto the British music scene in 1969 with Space Oddity, but his appeal cut across all creative industries, with his influence ever-present in the fashion world thanks to his devil-may-care experimental style—there was no trouser too tight, jumpsuit too zany, or silk blouse too outlandish for Bowie. He blurred the boundaries of menswear and womenswear, a topic that is at the epicenter of the fashion psyche today.
His renegade spirit and flamboyant, punk aesthetic of the Ziggy Stardust era is one that we witness replayed in the current collections (Hedi Slimane of Saint Laurent springs to mind) and proves to be the ultimate reference point for quintessential British cool in the '70s, '80s and the present day. Here we pay tribute to the late musician with a look back at some of his legendary cool looks that are laced with lessons.
Scroll down to see some highlights from the Bowie fashion archives.
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In 1991 with wife, Chanel Iman.
Bowie Style Lesson #1: Make a T-shirt your own. Turn up the sleeves, tuck it in, and customise the neckline, but never, ever wear one without making it unique.
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In 1983 on stage at a music festival in Belgium.
Bowie Style Lesson #2: Lend a series of twists to a suit to rev it up: Shoulder robe the jacket, undo the top button of a shirt, add braces, and roll up those sleeves. Remember, you're wearing the clothes not the other way around.
In 1976, at The Man Who Fell to Earth photo shoot.
Bowie Style Lesson #3: Trilbys and Fedora hats should be worn with personality or not at all. Tilt it and smolder.
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Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust '70s era.
Bowie Style Lesson #4: Don't let anyone kill your fashion vibe. If you wake up and want to make a serious statement in something jolly eccentric, commit and wear your loud threads with aplomb. Sitting on the fence doesn't work when it comes to fashion. Carpe diem and all that.
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In 1969 on stage at the London Palladium.
Bowie Style Lesson #5: If in doubt, go smart and wear slick tailoring. A double-breasted jacket with exaggerated lapels is always a good idea. This mantra was so in the '60s and it's still relevant today.
Which Bowie memory is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.