Following the beloved pop legend's death on Christmas Day, we remember his indomitable love of fashion through Katharine Hamnett's 'Choose Life' slogan tees and supermodel karaoke sessions.
David Bowie, Prince, and George Michael: three men who spent their brilliant musical careers challenging preconceptions of what manhood looks like. As the world mourns the death of Michael, who sadly passed away on Christmas Day at the age of just 53, he is being celebrated not just for his sexually charged pop hits and quiet generosity but for his fearless approach to fashion. And at a time when toxic masculinity will soon be governing (at least in America) in more ways than one, men who show us that virility can come in gold earrings and fingerless gloves deserve to be celebrated more than ever. From the Lonsdale boots and Katharine Hamnett slogan tees of his Wham! days to glamorous guest appearances from his bevy of 90s supermodel friends, here are five George Michael music videos to watch on repeat.
"Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" (1984)
Wham!'s original video for this 80s teen superhit is possibly even brighter than its Zoolander remake. But the most enduring look from the neon-heavy pop party is probably the "Choose Life" slogan t-shirts worn by Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. The shirts were designed by legendary British designer and activist Katherine Hamnett — who Kanye West recently named as one of his top fashion influences alongside Raf Simons, Helmut Lang, and Martin Margiela. The "Choose Life" phrase would eventually be appropriated by the anti-abortion movement, though it was was originally inspired by Buddhism and intended as a call-to-action against drug use and suicide.
The leather, the Levi 501s, the aviators, the stubble, the cross earrings: it's difficult to tell which part of Michael's "Faith" outfit is more iconic. The song is off Michael's debut solo album by the same name, and the look would become synonymous with the breakout pop star for years after the album was first released in the late 80s. Michael has since said that he was embarrassed by the bottle-blonde hair and gold earrings he wore during this era, but they made him a sex symbol to people of all genders.
"Freedom 90" (1990)
Michael's "Freedom 90" video — featuring Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and Cindy Crawford lip-syncing his lyrics — is so well loved that Vogue recently created a modern version to celebrate its 26th anniversary. Michael famously refused to appear in the David Fincher-directed video, instead using a Peter Lindbergh photo of 90s supermodels as inspiration for the casting. Though not all of them leapt at the chance. "He thought it would make us into a big deal, that it would be good for us. I was like, Please, we're here. We've already arrived!" Evangelista has since said. "Little did I know that to this day, when someone meets me for the first time, they bring up that video. That's what they remember. So, yeah, George was right." She even dyed her hair platinum blonde right before the video was shot.
"Too Funky" (1992)
Evangelista was the only one who returned for Michael's second supermodel-studded music video. "Too Funky" was a far more dramatic collaboration with spectacle-loving designer Thierry Mugler, who directed and created costumes for the video. It shows Evangelista joined by Tyra Banks, Nadja Auermann, and Estelle Lefébure for a high-octane runway show featuring giant feather headpieces, tasseled leather hot pants, and futuristic metal bodysuits. It also showcases Mugler's revolutionary motorcycle bustier — created for his spring/summer 92 line and later remade for Beyoncé's alter-ego Sasha Fierce.
"White Light" (2012)
Over two decades since the release of "Freedom 90," Michael was still equally infatuated with the shiny veneer of the fashion world. However the star of his "White Light" video wasn't just another very famous supermodel but one of his close friends. Kate Moss and Michael were neighbors in North London, and Moss recently revealed that she has a secret ladder into his garden to access the swimming pool. In this video, Moss plays an opulent guardian angel while Michael opts for the dark blazer-and-sweater combo he favored during his last few years. He wrote "White Light" after a near-death experience with pneumonia, making the video — which also grapples with life and death — feel all the more poignant since his passing.
Text Hannah Ongley
Image via YouTube