7 of David Bowie’s most iconic outfits

From Ziggy Stardust to Aladdin Sane, the pioneering rock star's style was out of this world.

by Brittany Natale
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Jan 8 2020, 8:50pm

Even though David Bowie, the Starman himself, left this Earth nearly four years ago, his incredible work is more vital and necessary than ever. Not only did Bowie change music, he left a lasting impression on fashion as well, with his eternal willingness to change his look (a template replicated, with varying levels of success, by entertainers ever since). Throughout his long and storied career, Bowie blurred the line between genders and broke down old-fashioned ideas of sexuality, all while opening audience's eyes and minds along the way.

In honor of what would have been the iconic rockstar’s 73rd birthday, i-D takes a look at some of his most memorable style moments both on and off the stage:

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Album Cover for The Man Who Sold the World, 1970
In 1970, David Bowie was photographed for the cover of The Man Who Sold the World album wearing a floral dress designed by Michael Fish. Throughout his career, Bowie was constantly exploring and navigating the ideas of sexuality and gender. It was through this lens of curiosity that many of his famous personas were born.

David Bowie on the Cher Show, 1975
In 1975, Bowie took the stage with fellow musician, Cher, to perform a “Young Americans” medley. During this recording, Bowie can be seen wearing a much simpler style of dress, which was part of his Thin White Duke persona that he took on from 1975 through 1976. Instead of flashy sequined jumpsuits and patterned frocks, during this era Bowie instead opted for tailored three-piece suits, high-waisted trousers, white collared shirts, and slicked back hair.

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Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images

Bowie in a Kansai Yamamoto Designed Jumpsuit
Just the mention of Bowie conjures up visions of his elaborate and impressive stage costumes, including the wide-leg vinyl jumpsuit created by Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto. Yamamoto and Bowie first met when Bowie sought him out after admiring his 1971 collection shown during London Fashion Week — and the rest is history. In fact, Yamamoto designed many costumes for the musician over the years, including the outfits for his Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane tours. Some of these iconic ensembles included knit leotards, statement-making capes, and red patent leather boots, that all helped transform the British musician into his many personalities.

Bowie as Ziggy Stardust in a Bodysuit Designed by Freddie Burretti
In the early 70s Bowie created his Ziggy Stardust alter ego, which was anchored in eye-catching colors, otherworldly suiting, flashy fabrics, and glittery makeup. In this particular outfit, custom designed by Freddie Burretti, Bowie is seen wearing a jumpsuit with bright stripes, strong shoulders, and a low neckline, with boots designed by frequent collaborator Kansai Yamamoto. Burretti and Bowie had originally met in 1971 at the El Sombrero Club in Kensington, England, back when Burretti was a dancer who also worked for a tailor on King’s Road. After crossing paths, Burretti soon became part of Bowie’s team and was responsible for helping the musician create many of his memorable fashion moments, including his baby blue look for the “Life On Mars” video.

Halloween Jack Outfit Custom Designed by Freddie Burretti, 1974
In 1974, Bowie took the stage in Holland to perform one of his hits “Rebel, Rebel” dressed as one of his many personas, Halloween Jack. Halloween Jack was the character Bowie created for his 1974 album, Diamond Dogs. Bowie’s Freddie Burretti-designed Halloween Jack look included a plunging patterned shirt, a matching neck scarf, shaved eyebrows and an eye patch. An interesting fact? Bowie first started integrating his iconic eye patch into his stage costumes for a purpose that was beyond aesthetics — it was birthed from a bout of conjunctivitis and just stuck around.

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Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

David Bowie and Iman at Spago, Beverly Hills
David Bowie and his wife, supermodel Iman, are style icons each in their own right, and when they joined forces they became a fashion powerhouse. Their 24-year marriage was punctuated by memorable style moments — from tartan suiting on red carpets to coordinated outfits while out, and more. In April of 1991 the two were photographed outside of Spago’s wearing pared-down menswear and tailored leather — timeless looks that are definitely still on-trend.

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Photo by Ke.Mazur/WireImage

David Bowie’s Union Jack Coat Designed by Alexander McQueen
For his 1996 album, Earthling, Bowie can be seen wearing a Union Jack coat that was created by none other than fellow Brit, designer Alexander McQueen. Bowie had sought out the young fashion designer to create costumes for his upcoming Earthling tour, and liked the piece so much he decided to wear it on his album cover as well. The piece was said to have been inspired by musician Peter Townshend of The Who and a Gavin Turk painting called Indoor Flag (1995).

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Aladdin Sane
7 Iconic Outfits