Dezeen selects David Bowie's most iconic design moments

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David Bowie was one of the most influential fashion and design icons of the last 40 years. Following his death earlier this week, the Dezeen editors pick their favourite looks, costumes and album covers from his career.


Aladdin Sane album cover, 1973

David Bowie Aladdin Sane album cove

As his alter-ego Ziggy Stardust, Bowie's androgynous look became a defining image of the 1970s. His face painted with a pink-and-blue lightning bolt for the Aladdin Sane album cover is also one of the most enduring images of the musician, and was the most-replicated by illustrators paying tribute after news of his death.

The shoot for the artwork was directed by Celia Philo and photographed by Brian Duffy at his studio in London's Primrose Hill, with makeup by Pierre La Roche.


Striped bodysuit for Aladdin Sane tour by Kansai Yamamoto, 1973

Striped bodysuit for Aladdin Sane tour designed by Kansai Yamamoto (1973), photograph by Masayoshi Sukita from The David Bowie Archive

A series of outfits by Japanese fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto were used during the Aladdin Sane tour. These included patterned knitted one-pieces and billowing capes, but the stand-out garment was the striped body suit.

The black costume's wildly exaggerated silhouette expanded out at the legs, forming curves that were emphasised further by the pinstripes.


Barnbrook album cover for The Next Day, 2013

David Bowie The Next Day album cover by Barnbrook

After a long hiatus, Bowie returned to music in 2013 with a single called Where Are We Now? and album titled The Next Day.

Both covers were created by graphic design studio Barnbrook, which defaced the classic image for his 1977 album "Heroes" by placing a blank square over the pop star's face to form the new album artwork. The studio also upturned a 1970s photograph of the singer for the new single cover.


Ziggy Stardust sun makeup, 1973

David Bowie Ziggy Stardust sun makeup

Many of Bowie's iconic glam-rock looks were created for his appearances as Ziggy. Paired with his bright red mullet, the musician used face paint and makeup to exaggerate his androgyny.

During gigs and photoshoots in 1973, a golden sun was applied to his forehead, while metallic eyeshadow and bright red lipstick added to the drama.


Goblin King costumes, Labyrinth, 1986

David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth movie poster

Bowie's turn as Jareth, the baby-stealing Goblin King in Jim Henson's partially puppeted family film, is many younger generations' introduction to the musician.

Dressed in a ruffle-front shirt, spangled jacket and skin-tight grey leggings, and sporting a spiky blonde mullet, he transported 1980s glam to fairytale grandeur.


Ice-blue suit from Life on Mars? music video by Freddie Burretti, 1971

David Bowie ice-blue suit by Freddie Burretti

Of the many suits and costumes designed for Bowie's early career by Freddie Burretti, the pale blue ensemble worn during the video for Life on Mars? made the biggest visual impact.

The colour dramatically contrasted with the singer's bright red hair and white backdrop, but matched his eyeshadow.


Diamond Dogs Tour stage set, 1974

David Bowie Diamond Dogs stage set model

Bowie embarked upon the theatrical and extravagant Diamond Dogs tour to promote his album of the same name across North America. The set for the shows – designed by Jules Fisher and Mark Ravitz – was built to resemble a city, with angled skyscrapers that appeared to be oozing coloured paint.

The set reportedly cost $400,000 to construct, weighed six tons and incorporated over 20,000 moving parts, including a variety of props such as street lamps, chairs and catwalks.


Union Jack Coat by Alexander McQueen, 1996

David Bowie Union Jack coat by Alexander McQueen

The frock coat made from a giant British flag was created by Alexander McQueen when the fashion designer was relatively unknown, but quickly became one of Bowie's iconic looks of the 1990s.

He wore the coat for the VH1 Fashion Awards, as well as on the cover of his 1997 album Earthling and during his subsequent tour.


Pierrot costume from Ashes to Ashes music video by Natasha Korniloff, 1980

David Bowie Pierrot costume for Ashes to Ashes video by Natasha Korniloff

Bowie dressed as Pierrot, or The Blue Clown, became the dominant visual representation of his Scary Monsters phase.

The costume designed by Natasha Korniloff comprised a series of petal-life metallic panels, worn with shimmering blue tights, a white hat and pale makeup applied to look like a mask.


Thin White Duke suit, 1976

David Bowie as Thin White Duke

The Thin White Duke was the persona identified with Bowie's 1976 album Station to Station. The character dressed in a white shirt, black trousers and a waistcoat, appearing to look more "normal" than some of his other alter-egos.