David Bowie: WGSN celebrates a true fashion visionary

At WGSN we’ve spoken a lot recently about gender neutrality, the blurring of lines between genders. It is hugely relevant right now in fashion, but one man who pioneered this, who was an icon of this idea, was David Bowie.

As the news comes that he has passed away at the age of 69 from cancer, we at WGSN celebrate this true fashion icon for everything he achieved, breaking boundaries and changing the way we think about fashion and the world.

WGSN Director of Colour & Womenswear, Jane Boddy: “It’s funny because I was just recently watching The Man Who Fell to Earth, and the thing that struck me was the beautiful tailoring, it was supposed to be menswear but the magic of Bowie was that the way he wore it, it had an air of femininity. He was always blurring boundaries wearing tuxedos with big hats, menswear and womenswear were not separate entities in his mind, and that’s why his look was so wonderfully unique.”

WGSN Menswear Director, Volker Ketteniss: “While Bowie was best known for his dynamic, loud, vibrant, colourful outfits, the clothes that stick in my mind were his more subtle offerings. He remains a well-known reference for menswear, and for me he changed menswear in the mid-70s when he created his Thin White Duke persona. These are references that keep coming back, the 70s tailoring, very pulled together looks, these are constantly referenced and are currently on the catwalk at Gucci. That was the brilliance of Bowie, whether he was wearing bold prints, or subtle browns, he created a look that will continue to be a design reference for future seasons, and influence every corner of the fashion industry for years to come.”

WGSN Menswear Senior Editor, Nick Paget: “For me, discovering Bowie long after his early success was a colourful revelation. His music, his lyrics and his style were quite unlike anything that went before him. It was only as my understanding of pop music deepened that I understood his towering influence over huge swathes of what has followed.
David Bowie made an art form of taking control of ‘being different’, of being an outsider – that was one of his biggest gifts to his fans and, in particular, queer society. He was a total one-off, much copied but never to be repeated.”

WGSN Beauty Assistant Emma Grace Bailey: “Never afraid to experiment, Bowie’s eccentric use of make-up helped liberate a generation of people who were entranced by his strange ideal of beauty.
From the legendary Aladdin Sane cover in 1972 to the Ziggy Stardust years and beyond, his bold use of colour and shape paved the way for the beauty chameleons of today. But Bowie will always be the first.”

Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.