Marking the release of Xscape, Sony’s second album of previously unpublished Michael Jackson tracks, we honour the regal wardrobe of the King of Pop. If there ever was an appropriate time to use to the word iconic, it would be to describe Michael’s look: part Napoleonic warlord and part dapper gangster, his dressmaker for life Michael Bush once his described his larger-than-life client’s wardrobe as “Liberace goes to war”. Through his clothes – clothes, not costumes – Michael fashioned himself into a walking wonder, a fairytale king, and an optical illusion all at once. Everyone has their favourite Michael Jackson look and that’s the power of his all-embracing appeal. But beyond the classics – the Billie Jean glitter outfit, the Smooth Criminal gangster suit, the HIStory Tour gold ensemble – Michael donned some pretty breathtaking lesser-known numbers. We give you five that rocked our world.
While Michael occasionally worked with fashion designers – Gianni Versace, Roberto Cavalli, and Christophe Decarnin to name a few – he wasn’t a huge fan of fashion. For Michael, clothes were about dreams: making them up, having them made, and wearing them first. As a result, it’s hard to come by a Michael Jackson outfit that wasn’t made by Michael Bush and Dennis Tompkins under Michael’s meticulous supervision, unless of course Michael happened to see something in a shop window. That’s what led to the first look on our list, the Privy Councillor Diplomatic uniform by Gieves & Hawkes. During his Bad tour in the late 80s, Michael spotted it in the master tailor’s Savile Row window and called upon Gieves & Hawkes cutter Garry Carr to make him his very own. Carr got ten minutes with Michael in his hotel room, Michael asked for various extras to be added, and his first (and possibly only) real military uniform was created. He wore it for a Vanity Fair shoot with Annie Leibovitz, and just like that he moved on to the next one.