Last Friday, a new exhibit opened at the Museum of Popular Culture in Seattle, featuring portraits of the musician David Bowie, taken by photographer Mick Rock. Rock was a Cambridge-educated Londoner, working as a journalist in the early seventies. When he interviewed bands, he would take their photographs to go along with the articles he wrote. Rock was in the right place at the right time to capture David Bowie's transformation into his alter-ego, the androgynous alien rock star, Ziggy Stardust. Rock's portraits capture Bowie’s innovative style, charismatic persona and electric performances. They also offer an intimate glimpse of Bowie behind-the-scenes; hanging out between gigs and putting on his stage makeup in dressing rooms. Bowie told his manager at the time, “Mick sees me the way I see myself.”
If you'd like to see more of Rock's photographs of Bowie, check out this book:
It is included on this list of our top picks for photography-heavy books exploring the life, legend and style of David Bowie. While reading Bowiestyle, I was surprised to learn that Bowie didn't think of himself as a trendsetter and much preferred classic tailoring and heritage brands to fads. He's quoted as saying, "I didn't wear much that was fashionable, actually. I was quite happy with things like Fred Perrys and a pair of slacks."
In addition to being a talented musician and style icon, Bowie also worked as an actor in roles as surprising and diverse as his ever-changing outfits. He portrayed Andy Warhol in Basquiat, a vampire in The Hunger, an alien in The Man Who Fell to Earth and a haunted detective in Twin Peaks: Firewalk With Me. Explore his best movie roles on this list. Even when he wasn't appearing on screen as an actor- the addition of Bowie's music to films often made for some magical movie moments.
One of my favorites occurs in Control. The Anton Corbijn-directed film begins with a young Ian Curtis (the late, lead singer of Joy Division) coming home from the record store with the iconic Bowie album Aladdin Sane under his arm. As Curtis listens to the record play, he struts, preens and dances in front of the mirror, trying to emulate the enviable confidence Bowie exudes. It is an intimate glimpse of the influence Bowie had on a subsequent generation of musicians and the space that he carved out for men to embrace a glam, androgynous style.