Oh you pretty things! A year on from his death, Bowie's fashion influence is still felt

Bowie became his own blank canvas for performance and beyond

David Bowie was one of few artists where style equalled substance. Very much a man before his time, he paved the way not just sonically, but stylistically for artists of the modern age.

Lady GaGa, Madonna, Brandon Flowers and beyond have all borrowed heavily from Bowie when it comes to crafting looks for the stage.

On the first anniversary of his death, we examine his most popular alter-egos and the extensive wardrobes built around them:


Promoting gender fluidity and an 'all clothes for all people' attitude, Bowie donned embroidered jackets and rig-outs which he might later have upholstered to make one of many of his couches. He grew out his hair, abandoned social constructs and gave us 'The Man Who Sold The World' - a strong man in a satin dress draped on a chaise-lounge.

The 'Hunky Dory' portraits followed, featuring soft unkempt hair and wide long pants to beat the band.

"As long as he remains a boy, I can’t see any harm in it," were his mother's comments on his label-free attitude towards clothes.

File photo of a fan playing a picture disc of David Bowie's Hunky Dory on a turntable at his shop in suburban Paranaque, south of Manila, Philippines. Image: Aaron Favila AP/Press Association Images

Ziggy Stardust & Aladdin Sane

He briefly played with metallics during the 'Space Oddity' period, but the Mars men didn't crash land until the seventies, with Bowie's space obsession spilling over into his personal image. Looks became stronger and more structured, with angler cuts, shoulder pads and platforms. Never a man to shy away from patterns, stripes were his go-to look.

Bowie abandoned minimalist beauty for full-frontal glam - he's now synonymous with a shock of red-orange hair (which he previously used to dye with food colouring) and pre-My Chemical Romance eyeliner.

Bowie with his former wife Angie. Image: Anwar Hussein EMPICS Entertainment

It was either costume drama or suited and booted - he did not acknowledge the middle-ground. He did begin playing with gender-bending once again though, in a tiny orange playsuit which would go on to be worn by Kate Moss on two separate occasions.

In her tribute to him at the Grammys, Lady GaGa took on the persona of Ziggy Stardust. Throughout her own career, she has mimicked his style - serious parallels can be drawn to the makeup she wears in the video for Just Dance and that of the 'Aladdin Sane' LP.

The Thin White Duke

On July 4 1973, Bowie held a retirement party for Ziggy Stardust, parking the persona until further notice. Subsequently, his looks became noticeably more reserved. He revisited his early bohemian days, balanced with business smarts.

Hair slicked back and eyes as piercing as ever, Bowie began demonstrating masculinity in an entirely new way - linen jumpsuits, parachute pants and slacks all featured.

Bowie performing as The Thin White Duke at Wembley Stadium. Image: Sport and General S&G Barratts/EMPICS Archive

However, it masked a darker character a troubled - "ice masquerading as fire", as Bowie once described. The character, dubbed by the musician as a "nasty ogre", was conceived when the musician was suffering from a drug addiction.

Serious moonlight... And serious style

As Bowie adjusted to a life beyond narcotics, his style became less severe. He abandoned the grey eyeshadow, but the suits stayed - albeit in a new guise. 

Highlights of the Serious Moonlight tour include his blonde bombshell in brogues rig-out at the press conference, a peach two-piece worn in Brussels and the periwinkle number at Live Aid. 

Bowie performing at Live Aid. Image: PA PA Archive/PA Images

His turn as the Goblin King in Labyrinth saw his hair (and eyebrows) take centre stage.

Garishly loud eighties prints didn't escape through Bowie's mitts, mind. Around the time he met his second wife, model Imam, he could be seen sampling silk shirts and skintight striped trousers on stage.


On the cover for Earthling, Bowie wears the infamous Union Jack jacket. Designed in collaboration with the late British designer Alexander McQueen, the pair became friends following the project. The design is signature McQueen - now instantly recognisable.

The nineties saw Bowie in an array of jackets - he was still a big fan of embroidery. He also rekindled his love of pastels at the Freddie Mercury Tribute show, in a mint suit jacket and trousers.


As 'normal' as you could ever consider David Bowie, his wardrobe became significantly more relaxed following his 2000 Glastonbury gig, in which he donned a pale yellow patterned suit.

Image: Toby Melville PA Archive/PA Images

Collecting his Outstanding Achievement award during GQ Men of the Year Awards in 2002. Image: Andy Butterton PA Archive/PA Images

In 2004, he suffered a heart attack and subsequently moved to New York. Following this, he stopped making music and touring.

David Bowie performs live onstage during the Isle of Wight festival at Seaclose Park in Newport, Isle of Wight in 2004. Image: Yui Mok PA Archive/PA Images

The former Starman became the 'Blackstar' Man - what was to be his final album, recorded as he suffered from liver cancer.

He may have found himself stepping into the shadows, but even in death, he is never overshadowed. His influence continues to be felt within music, and even more so than in the world of fashion. 

Labels are continuing to turn away from the structured assignment of gender to clothing. Popular high street brand Zara made waves last when it announced its own gender neutral line. Jaden Smith made headlines in 2016 when he posed in a skirt for Louis Vuitton’s new line. Hip-hop artist Young Thug also wore a dress on his last album 'Jeffery'.

The cover of Young Thug's 'Jeffery'

UK department store Selfridges began a "genderless shopping experience" that featured a shopping space without gendered marketing, called "Agender."

Makeup brands such as Covergirl and Maybelline are now looking beyond the view that makeup is solely a woman's hobby by appointing male spokespeople. 

YouTuber and makeup artist James Charles, CoverGirl's first male spokesperson 

A year on from his death, Bowie's broad strokes in style will continue to be observed across catwalks for decades to come.