I have recently been reading about certain fashion themes such as Heroes and Silhouettes and identifying them with some of the items I have in my wardrobe. One item I really love is my full length black wool blend and contrast packet coat which is very like one that David Bowie wore, and I love the shape of it because it has a very mannish silhouette and has clear lines and in a way it makes me stand up taller or at least appear to be. David Bowie was one of my music and fashion heroes and the addition of my long coat was not only down to my admiration of him but in a way I was trying to feel a small sense of heroism by imitating how he dressed and this made me feel closer to someone that I really admired. Throughout his life, David Bowie was not just an innovator of music but of fashion, and both went through many transformations during his career.
When I chose to wear items of clothing that were similar to people I admired, I never really think about it in terms of ‘Heroes’ and that by wearing an item that one of my music and fashion heroes wore I realized that I am not only imitating how they dressed but I am in a way, trying to connect to the item in terms of emotion and aspiration.
I am enjoying reading more about ‘Silhouettes’ which has reactivated my knowledge of silhouettes and how it’s about the shape that the outline of your clothes are creating on your body and that the shape the clothes are creating around our bodies is not the shape that are body actually is. Rudofsky (Are Clothes Modern 1944 exhibition at MoMA) gave me a good understanding of the principle of the ‘Silhouette’ and how silhouettes actually constrict your body and change your body. Some of the silhouettes that I relate to are ‘power’, to make myself look bigger than I actually am and hiding my body to a certain extent and ‘freeing’, which is the way your body can be freed through a silhouette. Another favorite item in my wardrobe is a suit that is not unlike the ‘Zoot Suit’ which was a particular type of suit with it’s broad-shoulders, wide-armed jacket and an almost narrow cut waist and oversized pegged trousers gave the wearer an exaggerated and enhanced silhouette as well as conveying a statement when worn. The ‘Zoot Suit’ was a popular fashion item through the 1930s and ‘40s on a wave of jazz music and was a precursor or notion to the idea of the suit as a corporate uniform. I was surprised to learn how the ‘Zoot Suit’ when worn by a particular wearer’s race, attracted racist white assailants which sometimes ended in violent confrontations. My suit actually has a wider trouser silhouette not unlike the oversized trousers associated with the ‘Zoot Suit’ as opposed to the more traditional or slim-fit suit trousers. There was a period in the 1970s when David Bowie wore ‘Hunky Dory’ slacks that weren’t too dissimilar to the ‘Zoot Suit’ style of trousers.
I think David Bowie’s fashion transformations really changed the fashion world and lots of fashions designers have found inspiration in many of his looks. His transformations were just a way of reinventing himself and to prevent himself from getting bored. He also demonstrated how men could be powerfully feminine (gender ambiguity). I hope to see some fashion designers experiment more with genderless unisex and seasonless fashion, which some designers such as Thom Browne and the former Yves Saint Laurent and Ermenegildo Zegna Couture designer Stefano Pilati have already done.