"In some ways he seemed like an alien from the very beginning," says Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz of Bowie, who moved away from London's mod scene after releasing his first solo album. Adds designer Diane von Furstenberg, "Looking at all the metamorphoses he went through, I am most moved by the very early young David."
Gender Bend: 1971, London
"It's my favorite look," says Talley of Bowie in long hair, wide-leg trousers, flowy, feminine blouse and floppy hat, with then-wife Angie and son Duncan. "This is a look that was all about blurring of the lines. Now Jaden Smith is wearing what Bowie began."
Full-On Ziggy: 1973, London
"This is one of my personal favorites," says Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott of the ensemble Bowie wore for his "Life on Mars?" video. "I loved seeing American Horror Story's riff on it last season with Jessica Lange." The suit, created by Freddie Burretti, is part of the Victoria and Albert Museum's David Bowie Is traveling exhibition. Notes designer Patricia Field: "By the very early '70s, Bowie paralleled the artistic expression in his costumes with his music."
Pop Art: 1973, New York
While working with Japanese stylist Yacco Takahashi, Bowie met designer Kansai Yamamoto and together the trio created looks like the "Tokyo Pop" vinyl jumpsuit (a take on traditional Kabuki costumes) for his 1973 Aladdin Sane Tour. "He melded fashion and music, completing a world of his own," says Yamamoto, who still designs in Japan.
Knitwear For Glam Rock: 1973
Performing in one of Kansai Yamamoto’s designs. Yacco Takahashi, his stylist at the time, remembers working as a "kuroko" (a stagehand in Kabuki theater) to help Bowie change in and out of costumes quickly. "On stage, David wore Kansai's black jumpsuit with the wide legs, and I ran toward him to quickly change his look, and in a blink David was standing there in his colorful knitwear. All the looks were unisex and tailored to fit him."
Aladdin Sane, 1973 album cover
French makeup artist Pierre La Roche created the lightning bolt makeup for Bowie’s Aladdin Sane album cover shoot in 1973. Celia Philo, who directed the shoot, told Stylist magazine in 2013 that La Roche took inspiration from the outfits that Bowie was wearing to create the oft-replicated look.
Halloween Jack: 1974
One of the singer’s lesser-known personas was Halloween Jack, which Bowie introduced in the song “Diamond Dogs” and identified with an eye patch. He wore this pirate-like outfit while performing “Rebel Rebel" on a Dutch TV show.
Extreme Elegance: 1975, 'Cher' show performance, Los Angeles
"It's the classical cool of rock," says author and Vogue contributing editor André Leon Talley of the pared-down look of the artist's Thin White Duke persona, which ushered in a menswear-focused style era. "Bowie moved with ease from gender fluidity to high-waisted trousers. It's a throwback to Marlene Dietrich style -- who was totally the first to be androgynous." Adds Wentz: "The White Duke is like Elvis from another time to me. Like, on another planet, this is Elvis or The Beatles."
La Petit Bowie: 1980
In what was one of the most iconic music videos of the 1980s, Bowie revisited his love of miming through the use of black and white makeup. "He was absolutely beautiful,” says former lover Lindsay Kemp who classically trained Bowie in the art of mime and also served as director of the Ziggy Stardust concerts. "He asked if I could teach him [to dance].”
Dandy Dressing: 1983, Serious Moonlight Tour
"I was thinking about this Bowie period a lot recently, with the opening look of my recent Moschino show on [model] Lucky Blue," says Scott, who on Jan. 10 showed a series of traditionally masculine yet wildly colorful suiting that opened with the platinum-blond male model (and Bowie doppelganger) Lucky Blue Smith. Talley points to the original suit wearer, Beau Brummell, as possible inspiration: "He admired the importance of English dandies in the history of fashion." Adds Field of these years: "As David was more mature, his costumes started to reflect this attitude. He always made a perfect balance between his songs, his costumes and his age, keeping his audience always longing for more."
When Classic Married Elegance: 1991, American Cinematheque Awards
Bowie looked every bit the modern gentleman alongside his soon-to-be wife Iman in 1991. By keeping his look classic, he allowed Iman's elegant and at times bold ensembles to dazzle even more. Though the spotlight always shined on the both of them, his choices always seemed to be steered toward her direction.
Fashion Bee: 1991, Performing With Tin Machine
For the tour with his band Tin Machine, Bowie donned a series of looks designed by the late Gianni Versace, including the bumble-bee striped trousers and bright yellow blazer pictured here. A year later, Elton John would follow suit, having Versace design looks for his world tour and album cover.
The Union Jack(et), 1996, VH1 Fashion Awards, New York
"He was a master in collaborating with genius fashion giants, and this Alexander McQueen greatcoat is everything," says Talley of the coat that Bowie would wear on repeat: onstage at the VH1 Fashion Awards in 1996, on the cover of his 1997 album Earthling and countless times on the road. The garment has since appeared in The Costume Institute's AngloMania and Savage Beauty exhibitions, as well as in the V&A exhibition.
Model Marriage, 2004, Tommy Hilfiger spring campaign
"He was most David Bowie when with his wife,” says Talley. "All he needed was a simple black suit."
Perfect Pairing, 2008 Met Gala, New York
"Her style influenced him," says Talley of Bowie's 1992 marriage to model Iman, who already was a style icon in her own right. "He wore more classical or traditionally masculine looks to complement one of the world's great beauties. Vogue did a most astonishing shoot on the beach with Iman in Chanel haute couture and Bowie kissing her. It was the total sum of a moment and early in their marriage." The couple both wore Dolce & Gabbana to attend the 2008 Met Gala.
Mirror Images: 2013, "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" video
"Bowie and Tilda Swinton in the same shawl-collared look is the apex of cross-reference of masculine-feminine identity," says Talley of their appearance in Bowie's video, which also featured transgender model Andreja Pejic. Swinton already had paid homage to Bowie (who, she has said, "always felt like a cousin") in a 2003 Vogue Italia feature, with red hair and outre makeup and menswear.
Vuitton Man: 2013, Louis Vuitton campaign
The Thin White Duke looked positively regal in the fashion house’s Fall/Winter 2013 campaign. In addition to the David Sims-shot images, Bowie serenaded Arizona Muse with “I’d Rather Be High” while playing the harpsichord for a series of minute-long commercials directed by Romain Gavras that drew inspiration from Venetian masquerades.