“David Bowie Is”

Striped bodysuit for Aladdin Sane tour 1973 Design by Kansai Yamamoto Photograph by Masayoshi Sukita

Striped bodysuit for Aladdin Sane tour 1973 Design by Kansai Yamamoto Photograph by Masayoshi Sukita

Last week we went to a documentary about the touring art exhibition David Bowie Is, which premiered at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum last year, and over the last year and a half has hit Toronto, Sao Paulo, and Berlin and following its Chicago stop at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art where it will remain on view until January 4th, it’ll head to Paris and The Netherlands through 2016. I loved that the movie ran in more than 100 movie theaters in the United States, all on September 23rd. The exhibition itself consists of photos, costumes and other items from the David Bowie Archive.

I cannot even tell you how much I loved this film, which was of the London exhibition’s closing night. I was concerned that I would be bored during parts of the 110 minute film, but I continued to be surprised by the engaging presentation of Bowie’s ever present ambition, belief in his future as a rock star and willingness to work almost non-stop. He would sometimes storyboard an oncoming tour two years before it started.

Most of you probably know about Ziggy Stardust, his character that was a glam rock icon and incredibly popular with teenagers. What I found most interesting about Ziggy, is that at the end of a show, the last night of a tour, Bowie announced to the crowd that the tour was over. “This show will stay the longest in our memories,” he told the crowd before the final encore of “Rock and Roll Suicide.” “Not just because it is the end of the tour, but because it is the last show we’ll ever do.” What was true, is that it was the last show he ever did as Ziggy Stardust. His willingness to move on and take the chance that he could succeed as David Bowie, in some other incarnation, was fascinating to me.

I love this subversive Union Jack long coat by Alexander McQueen

I love this subversive Union Jack long coat            by Alexander McQueen

But of course the very best part of the evening was the fashion. To quote Billboard,

He’s been Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, The Thin White Duke. A dapper gentleman and a stylish freak. During his 45 or so years of recording, David Bowie has been as much of a fashion innovator as he’s been a musical vanguard, breaking barriers, pushing buttons and taking chances. All while seemingly being indifferent about what people think, as long as they do think and care when he throws something new at them.

Some of the clothes he designed himself, many of his sketches were in the exhibit. Some he collaborated with Japanese fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto, among others.

I did not know that Bowie was creative in a variety of fields including performance art, music, dance, theater, and the visual arts, and fostered collaborations with artists of all kinds throughout his life.

It was a fascinating evening and if you get the chance to see the movie or the exhibit, I strongly recommend that you take that opportunity.