Lasts week, we lost iconic avant-garde fashion designer, Kansai Yamamoto. Yamamoto is best known for this long-term collaboration with David Bowie, especially the costumes for the Martian rocker's Ziggy Stardust tour.
On the Fashion United website, there's a piece about the 2018 Brooklyn Museum evening with Yamamoto, done in support of the David Bowie Is exhibit.
Here, Yamamoto describes his collaboration with Bowie:
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“Unlike me, Bowie was quiet, shy, but on stage he flips a switch and becomes David Bowie,” says Yamamoto. “Me, I’m always that way.” But they shared a love of what the designer calls “radical appearance,” and when asked what they learned from each other, he replies that through Bowie he developed his understanding of Western dress while he helped Bowie interpret Eastern clothing. He agrees that he sees a direct line between what he created in the 70s for Bowie and the current conversation on gender and dress. “I approached Bowie’s clothes as if I was designing for a female,” he admits. “Notice there is no zipper in front.” But he feels proud seeing how the younger generation attending the “David Bowie Is” exhibit can express themselves when compared to the societal restrictions he encountered in Japan 50 years ago, as a self-taught, broke, designer launching his career at the age of 21. A photographer had snapped a picture of him walking along London’s Kings Road and it was featured on the cover of Life magazine. “I felt every day I was the model in a fashion show and everyone around me were members of the audience,” he says.
When Little Richard died a few days ago, everyone was quick to rightfully hail him as the true king of rock and roll (which he was always quick to crown himself). But he was also the queen (which he would also sometimes declare).
David Bowie is often identified as the great leper messiah who made unapologetic gender fluidity acceptable in rock and roll, but he (and countless others) got their inspiration --and costume and makeup tips-- from Little Richard. James Brown, Bowie, Prince, Elton John, Marc Bolan, Jagger, Plant, Rundgren, Alice Cooper, and all the rest of them, even John Waters' mustache, owe an immense debt to Little Richard (who...um...owes his own great debt to Esquerita). Richard had nearly as much of an impact on the style, preen and swagger, and the transgressive posturings of rock and roll as did his music.
Hail the Queen!
Read a bit more on the subject (and see some cool pictures) in this article in The Guardian.
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Imaging walking into the Toby Jug Pub in Tolworth, England on February 10, 1972 expecting to see a folkier, more mellow David Bowie and encountering Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars instead. The world didn't know it yet, but it shifted on its cultural axis that night.
This video is from later in the year, stitched together from various bits of footage and synced with the audio from Bowie's Oct 20th Santa Monica show.
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Donning a much-glitzier version of the black western bowtie and white suit that Colonel Harland Sanders is famous for, country music legend Reba McEntire is now playing an androgynous version of KFC's iconic founding father in a new ad campaign. Read the rest