13 Times David Bowie Fought Fashion — & Won

Photo: Terry O’Neill/Getty Images.
Among all the radical, game-changing things that David Bowie offered to the music world, he was also an artist in the purest sense of the title. Notes and melodies weren't the only thing he knew how to manipulate to change our realities: He understood how moving images, personas, even the color of his hair — and, yes, clothing — could be transformative.

The pop icon was famous for his myriad alter egos — each seemingly more radical than the last. Bowie’s artistic breakthrough came with 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars, an album that fostered his image as rock-star-god-meets-visiting-space-alien. An ambassador of the avant-garde and a defender of the different, his stage personas — ranging from out-of-this-world Ziggy Stardust, via Major Tom, to whimsy Thin White Duke — became the worshipped iconography of a musical genre that hung entirely upon one man.

With his mismatched eye colors (the result of a schoolyard fight) and needlelike frame, Bowie resembled the aliens he wrote so much about; his otherness was a canvas that he used fashion to embellish. Whether it was platform boots, leotards, or buttons that were never buttoned, Bowie always rebelled against the dominant style regime, and the fashion landscape is better because of it. Cool until the end, Bowie was always well-heeled; here's a cut of his finest sartorial moments.
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Photo: Getty.
Bowie pictured with a fluffed-out Warholian 'do on March 3, 1965, when he was still going by his birth name, Davy Jones.

Jones changed his name to Bowie following the success of the Monkees, whose lead singer was named Davy Jones.

The oversized tweed suit and high-necked collar are nearly comical in their exaggerated proportions.
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Photo: Fiona Adams/Getty.
A 16-year-old Bowie pictured on London's Carnaby Street in the summer of 1963 for a shoot for Boyfriend magazine, wearing a prim mod getup.
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Photo: Getty.
An androgynous David Bowie wearing severe tailoring to perform live at Wembley Stadium during his Station to Station tour in 1976.
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Photo: Terry O'Neill/Getty.
Leather boots, braces, and a soft black hat: David Bowie in 1974, shot by Terry O'Neill.
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Photo: Michael Putland/Getty.
Bowie casually paints the coving of his home in Beckenham, South East London, April 25, 1972, wearing an allover patterned outfit only he could pull off.
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Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty.
David Bowie poses for a portrait in his 1972 Ziggy Stardust guise, wearing platform boots and a winged jumpsuit.
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Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty
The flame-mullet Bowie, in an asymmetric leotard at the height of his Ziggy Stardust era, in 1973.
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As Jareth the Goblin King in the 1986 film, The Labyrinth, Bowie starred opposite a teenage Jennifer Connelly. The wig was a particular highlight (we still fancied him, though).
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Photo: Gijsbert Hanekroot/Getty.
An eye-patched Bowie performs "Rebel Rebel" on the TV show TopPop on February 7, 1974 with a knotted silk scarf and crimson dungarees.
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Bowie's Earthling cover; he wears his cult McQueen Union Jack dress coat.
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Photo: Peter Sill/Getty.
A dapper David performs onstage at Earl's Court Arena on August 28, 1978.
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Photo: Photoshot/Getty.
A clean-cut David Bowie performing live at the Live Aid Concert, Wembley Stadium, London, on July 13, 1985.
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Photo: Ron Galella/Getty.
David Bowie with Iman in 1990. The pair married in 1992 and had one child, Alexandria. They were married for over 22 years and were one of fashion's most fêted unions.

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