The man who fell to Earth has fallen back. On Sunday, David Bowie–the glamorous, gender-bending rock icon whose 50-year career immortalized him in the realms of music, film, art, and fashion–died after losing an 18-month battle with cancer at the age of 69.
This week, there is no shortage of touching obituaries written to the transcendent artist whose alter egos included Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Jareth, and more. By way of tribute to Bowie’s timeless fashion sense, we decided to look back at the many iconic costumes he wore over the years, from The Man Who Sold The World to his last album, Blackstar–along with the fashion designers with whom he collaborated.
The Man Dress — Mr. Fish’s Man Dress, designed by British fashion designer Michael Fish, was one of Bowie’s earliest attempts at exploring gender-bending and exploiting his androgynous appearance. Bowie posed in the Man Dress on the cover of the U.K. release of The Man Who Sold The World, and wore it extensively on his first promotional tour to the United States in 1971.
The “Life On Mars” Suit — Designed by Freddie Burretti, Bowie’s go-to fashion designer (as well as lover and protege) between 1970 and 1974, this turquoise “ice-blue” suit was featured in the music video for “Life On Mars” from the album Heroes in May, 1973. You can watch the video here.
Ziggy Stardust — Another creation by Freddie Burretti, this quilted two-piece suit was designed in 1972 for Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust tour. Looking alien, Asian, and somehow superhuman at once, it perfectly emphasized Bowie’s glam rock sensibilities.
Aladdin Sane knit bodysuit — Kansai Yamamoto was one of the leaders in Japanese contemporary fashion during the 1970s and 1980s, and was particularly known for his avant-garde kimono designs. Bowie wore a few of Yamamoto’s kimonos, but this bodysuit knit for his Aladdin Sane tour is perhaps the duo’s most iconic collaboration.
The “Space Oddity” space suit — With its flared shoulder pads, cherry platform boots, and sparkled jacket and pants, this was one of Bowie’s first “space suits” for the early days of the 1972-73 Ziggy Stardust tour. Partially inspired by the aesthetic of the gangs from Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange, Bowie often sang “Space Oddity” in this costume. It was likely designed by Kansai Yamamoto.
Tokyo Pop — Bowie’s vinyl “Tokyo Pop” bodysuit was another of the many costumes designed by Kensai Yamamoto for the Aladdin Sane tour in 1973.
The Eyepatch — David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust eyepatch is one of his most iconic looks, but its creation was actually an accident. According to Bowie himself, he wore the eyepatch for the first time during an interview simply because of a bout of conjunctivitis he came down with shortly before an interview. He looked so good in it, he decided to go full-on space pirate with the rest of his outfit.
The Blue Clown — Bowie ushered in 1980 by taking his glam rock fashion stylings and going fully operatic with them. The Blue Clown, or Pierrot, was an outfit made for Bowie by costume designer Natasha Korniloff for his “Ashes to Ashes” video, and was also used on the cover of Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps).
The Serious Moonlight suit — David Bowie’s New Wave era resulted in the Serious Moonlight tour, which followed the commercial success of his 1983 track, “Let’s Dance.” For that tour–his most successful ever–Bowie abandoned the rapid-fire costume changes that he’d become known for in the 1970s, but his resulting look–a cool blue suit–is no less iconic.
The Goblin King — What mention of David Bowie’s iconic looks would be complete without mention of his turn as Jareth, the evil Goblin King from Jim Henson’s Labyrinth? Fantasy designer Brian Froud designed Jareth’s look in the film, saying he drew on inspirations such as Marlon Brando in The Wild One and vivid scenes from Brothers Grimm fairy tales, like the knight “with the worms of death eating through his armor.”
The Union Jack coat — Designed by famed British designer Alexander McQueen, Bowie wore this leather Union Jack coat on the cover of his 1997 album, Eart HL I NG. Perhaps not so coincidentally, that same year McQueen won the British Designer of the Year award.
Purple as a Prince — Even in 2002, performing at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, David Bowie was keeping a sharp fashion sense in this Prince-like purple tux.
Dead Spaceman — Released just days ago, it might be too early to call Bowie’s last costume iconic, but his appearance in his last ever music video, Lazarus, as a dead spaceman lying in a coffin, is just too poignant not to include.
We’ll miss you, Ziggy.