David Bowie Held Powerful Influence on Fashion Design

Photo: AP

David Bowie — with his outrageous alter egos — was famed as much for his image and powerful influence on fashion design as he was for his music.

From the much-copied lightning flash face paint of Aladdin Sane, the oversize shoulders and white shirt collars of “Thin White Duke” to the trilby hat and floppy fringe of the alien he played in the movie “The Man that Fell to Earth,” Bowie for decades boldly broke boundaries in style and gender with his influential looks.

Then there was, of course, 1972’s flame-orange haired Ziggy Stardust — his most recognizable invention.

While Bowie died of cancer at age 69 on Sunday after just having released a new album, he is as alive and young as ever on the high fashion catwalks.

Bowie “was a great artist and a timeless fashion icon… who will remain a reference,” Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld told The Associated Press.

Such was Bowie’s unique style that by 1992, when he married Somali-American fashion model Iman, his “relationship to fashion had already been sealed long before,” according to prominent fashion blogger Diane Pernet.

Some observers say that only Lady Gaga has come as close as Bowie did in seamlessly merging pop music and fashion.

Jean Paul Gaultier, Dior, Saint Laurent and Dries Van Noten and fashion-conscious actresses such as Tilda Swinton all owe Bowie a lot. The check list includes bold hair color, sometimes slicked back, golden makeup, high shoulders, space themes, wide lapels on big monochrome or yellow jackets or sheeny playsuits with a deep cleavage.

Trends in recent seasons have turned the clocks back to the glam rock of the 1970s and ‘80s — a Bowie signature.

A recent Gaultier ready-to-wear show in Paris entitled “Rock Stars” paid homage to the man by recreating Ziggy Stardust on model Hannelore Knuts — who donned a one-legged, star encrusted net catsuit to applause from guests.

Gaultier told The Associated Press Monday that “personally he inspired me by his creativity, his extravagance, his sense of fashion that he was constantly reinventing, by his allure, his elegance and his androgyny.”

Thomas Adamson can be followed at www.twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP