At least in my mind, David Bowie’s status as a style icon comes before his music. I have listened to his albums for years, but his image as a flamboyant, sophisticated shapeshifter was what initially drew me to his work.
I regret to say that despite Bowie’s fight to “Never Get Old” on Reality (2003), his newest album The Next Day (2012) is the first on which his age shows, meaning nothing of the quality, only his perspective. Like a retired astronaut, he harkens to stargazing and astro-disco on “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” and “Dancing Out In Space”. It’s a fine album, and I’m glad he has not retired. His fellow countryman Morrissey could take a few notes from him on aging gracefully.
One of the things I attribute Bowie’s success as an artist is his commitment to not over-sharing. I can’t imagine him writing a tell-all memoir. Recording The Next Day in secret gave him the opportunity to surprise us all again. His discretion invites listeners and fans to read more deeply into the details of his work rather than glossing over them.
The two images below are from a three-page ad featuring Bowie and Iman published during 2004 for H Hilfiger, a year after he released Reality. I forget how many years I had them taped up on my bedroom wall. At the time, I didn’t think of them as fashion photographs so much as rock posters. Funny how those lines get blurred.
It’s interesting to see how much the Hilfiger brand, like Bowie, has shapeshifted. These images are miles away from the “Hilfigers” ad campaign of recent years. The looks here are in step with the style and mood of Men In Black (1997) and the first installment of the Matrix franchise (1999), fusing together science fiction, minimalism, and an all black-and-white wardrobe.
Photo by me