Watching the 1980 music video for “Fashion”, I couldn’t keep my eyes off David Bowie. Sure, it was his song, his video, and he was the subject of it all. But amidst the choppy editing, unflattering lighting, and canvas-draped set of the Hurrah nightclub – all of which have not aged well – there is the star that is David Bowie, looking absolutely timeless.
He’s rolled up the sleeves of his diaphanous black shirt, which is unbuttoned at the front to reveal his gracile figure. The hem is tucked into a pair of loose-fitting khaki pants, with a matching jacket secured around his waist. His wavy mid-length hair, layered and parted roughly in the middle, falls messily to frame his aquiline face, made severe by plucked brows and heavy eyeliner.
Basically, he’s channeling today’s runway looks. To be more accurate, men’s fashion has been trying to keep up with Bowie all this time. Like the cast of what we would now consider sorrily dressed individuals, we seem destined to be left in his stardust.
Devilishly protean, Bowie shifted and morphed into icon after icon – Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke. Each of them was a star in his own right, with divergent voices, musical styles, and of course, impossibly imaginative looks.
His brand of androgyny, which belied a raw sexuality both men and women found curiously arousing, remains elusive on the catwalk – even in a time when gender-blending is the obsession of many a celebrated designer.
That being said, Bowie’s not timeless simply because of his prescience to the reigning trends decades into the future. He is timeless because he understood that style has nothing to do with time. Or fashion.
“Oh bop, fashion it’s loud and tasteless and I’ve heard it before /
You shout it while you’re dancing on the ole dance floor.”
As stubborn as the beat of the song and as self-aware as the lyrics are, so is fashion: doomed always to emulate the stylish, and in so doing re-affirms its hollow creativity. From the goon squad of our business that is fashion, to the Starman who’ll never really leave us: we’ll try not to blow it. Without someone like you, it’s really going to be hard.