Friday, January 15, 2016

Loss of an Icon - David Bowie


Album cover photo for Aladdin Sane 1973 /Photograph by Brian Duffy /Duffy Archive
News broke some 12 hours ago of the passing of David Bowie. As tributes flood the internet, it was interesting to note that so many of my friends had either listened to, talked of or thought about Bowie in just the past week.

Beginnings of a Bowie shrine by a mural in in his birthplace Brixton, London, 
January 10, 2016
Perhaps it is because his much anticipated new album Blackstar, his first release since 2013 LP, The Next Day, was imminent. Perhaps it is because his musical Lazarus has also been featured heavily in the media of late. Or perhaps it is because this man, this true genius and icon's influence pervades our lives so heavily that we don't even realize how much. We love his music. Most of my family and friends have a Bowie song or album in their faves repertoire. Everyone has a Bowie story, be it first hand or 2 degrees of separation. He filmed Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence in my father's birthplace, the tiny island of Rarotonga, in 1983. I love that he walked the ground where I have, and where my bloodlines are. "Cook Islands News newsroom 1983: typewriters clacking, banter and laughter, cigarette smoking, phones ringing, music. Office and furniture shabby and worn. It was into this scene that a slender, elegant David Bowie sauntered and casually asked...’Hello, I’m David Bowie, does anyone want to interview me?’ Like possums frozen by the dazzling brightness of this superstar, not one reporter said a thing for many long moments. You see, we did know he was on the island. We did know that he’d come to make a movie – “Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence.” We also knew with envy that David Bowie was having almost nightly long guitar jams over many drinks at the Rarotongan Hotel with just about everyone he befriended. Everyone was talking about having hilarious times with the superstar...The extraordinarily gifted Bowie loved his time on Rarotonga. He befriended many of the locals over songs and drinks. He will always be special to many people here."
My daughter wore her Bowie t.shirt just last week. Friends have recently been to see the Bowie David Is exhibit in Melbourne at the end of last year. We reminisce about various gigs we have seen on TV or if lucky, live, over the last 40 years. Kate Moss accepts his Best Male Solo Artist BRIT Award in 2014 clad in Ziggy Stardust's bunny jumpsuit designed by Kansai Yamamoto.  We smile at recent pictures of David and his supermodel wife of Iman, always looking so happy - and purportedly not just a Hollywood facade. “As I always said: I fell in love with David Jones. I did not fall in love with David Bowie. Bowie is just a persona. He's a singer, an entertainer. David Jones is a man I met.”). 
David & Iman, 2011 at the DKMS  Gala: Linked Against Leukemia in New York
We see posters for Blackstar plastered around cities worldwide and muse "Cool, a new Bowie album". We see that his ex-wife Angie is currently in the Celebrity Big Brother house in the UK, and several accompanying articles and interviews concerned with their 10 year marriage and their son, Zowie (then Joe, now Duncan). We look at the photo his website posts of a dapper David on his 69th birthday, just 2 days ago (above), and we marvel at how David has "still got it". We check out his latest surreal video for Lazarus, now particularly haunting. Producer Tony Visconti stated on his Facebook. “His death was no different from his life – a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry.” 

Terry O'Neill  Diamond Dogs, London, 1974 
Not only a musical icon - as I type, even the word icon doesn't do his influence justice - Bowie was a true fashion icon. A fashion pioneer, music, style arbiter and influencer. I love this quote my sister posted from Caitlin Moran’s essay 10 Things Every Girl Should Know upon hearing the terrible news.
“When in doubt, listen to David Bowie. In 1968, Bowie was a gay, ginger, bonk-eyed, snaggle-toothed freak walking around South London being shouted at by thugs. Four years later he was still exactly that — but everyone else wanted to be like him, too. If David Bowie can make being David Bowie cool, you can make being you cool.” 
Kate Moss, London, 12 January
It is hard to distinguish where art and fashion begins and the man ends, they are so intrinsically enmeshed. From incarnations as Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, Aladdin Sane and the immaculately suited & booted of late, his influence was huge. Fashion industry luminaries of all ages such as Stella McCartney, Paul Smith, Christopher Bailey, Dolce and Gabbana, Jean Paul Gaultier, Dries van Noten, Andrej Pejic, Cara Delevingne are sending tributes out. “I think anyone who has ever dressed up, worn makeup, or designed a ‘look’ has been inspired by Bowie and his art. He was constantly pushing boundaries and challenging the norm. A true visionary.” Designer Adam Selman. 
The Burberry show the day of the announcement of Bowie's passing featured his music and models wearing glitter, one has his name on her hands. Chief executive officer, Christopher Bailey said "I was just going to put it on one male model and then suddenly they all wanted it. It didn't feel right to do a show that was celebratory today, when the news is so profoundly sad."
Saskia De Brauw, Tilda Swinton, David Bowie, Andrej Pejic 
in the video to The Stars (Are out Tonight). Photograph: Floria Sigismondi
"I was lucky enough to work with him on his music video ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight).’ It was simply one of the greatest moments of my life. He was incredibly sweet, supportive, and extremely down to earth. We talked about politics, music, and social media (which he personally hated). He told me he had followed my career and asked how it was going and I admitted it was hard to break down certain gender binary walls in modeling. He winked at me and said, ‘Let’s see what this does.’ In one scene I had to crawl on top of him, stick a two-inch nail down his throat, and kiss him on the lips. It was pure madness, but the best kind!” —Andreja Pejic. The video also starring Tilda Swinton, Saskia de Brauw and Iselin Steiro is crazy art-house cool.

Kate Moss stepped out today wearing a Bowie tee and Ziggy-esque purple platforms in a nod to her friend. I love these pics by Ellen von Unwerth from 2003.
The news hasn't really sunk in. Like many, I think I  felt that Bowie was immortal. As the world tries to absorb this terrible loss, I am enjoying the many articles and photographs being re-run and posted about Bowie. I've included some here.
The stars are very different today. Rest in peace, shiniest of stars.

Union Jack coat commissioned from a relatively unknown Alexander McQueen in 1996 
Click here to read the story
Vogue Paris December/January 2012 and British Vogue May 2003 
Kate Moss for British Vogue May 2003 
Kimono featured on Kate in the above shoot, circa 1973
Elettra Rossellini, Vogue Paris, November 2004
David Bowie in iconic jumpsuit (worn by Kate below)
Kate Moss, Brits 2014
Elle Mexico, May 2013 
Balmain, AW2011
Steven Meisel, US Vogue, 2001 
Jean Paul Gaultier, S/S 2013
Arizona Muse Vogue Paris December 2011
Vogue Russia, March 2013
Baptiste Giabiconi for L'Officiel Hommes China, 2010
Ponyboy magazine, April 2014
Vogue Australia 2003

Dolce & Gabbana tee
Kristin Stewart, 2013
Evan Rachel Wood, 2013
Richard Madden, 2013
 Peaches Geldof, 2009
Daisy Lowe, 2007 (L) & 2008 (R)

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