DavidBowie_illustrationAs we were putting the content outline together for our Spring 2013 issue of On Makeup Magazine, our Director of Artistry, James Vincent, and I were talking through the issue. We came to the Icon piece and started having a dialogue about who we might feature in this issue. Maybe it was because he was on our mind as his album The Next Day was about to be released. Maybe it was because he is always so in the background of our collective consciousness as an industry. But one of us suggested David Bowie and our eyes met with an immediate – yes! Icon is a feature that isn’t only about makeup or beauty and the influence our feature subject has had in these areas. It is about someone who, while they have made an impact on our industry on some level, has earned the respect of our community and the world for who else they are. For what else they have given us – what else they have done for others. David Bowie was a man who changed everything. The expectation of what it means to influence the world changes when someone like Bowie comes along. For his music, his generosity, his inspiration and of course his makeup – his amazing, creative, breathtaking makeup – David Bowie was our Icon for the Spring 2013 issue of On Makeup Magazine. As the incredible sad news of his passing breaks across the world we look back at his incredible life and his countless contribution to our culture and society and hope you will enjoy the words of James Vincent and the beautiful art of Joe Dulude from On Makeup Magazine Icon feature, Spring 2013.
– Michael DeVellis, Editor/Creative Director, On Makeup Magazine   

From the Thin White Duke right through Dancing in the Street, David Bowie has been dubbed a style icon more times than any of us can count. His influence on the styles of other musicians, fashion designers, photographers, magazine editors and men and women all over the world can not be overstated. Bowie’s flair for pageantry and androgyny — along with his on stage costumes and off stage antics — became beacons of light and hope for arty, edgy children, the disenfranchised and outsiders everywhere. All of this influence has been written, blogged and talked about, but surprisingly little has been said about his impact on beauty and the way we see ourselves through personal style and makeup.

Through his constant transformation and artistic expression, Bowie brought an eye for color, an understanding of texture and a dramatic eagerness each transformation, characterization and makeup application. His chiseled cheekbones, a Cheshire cat grin, brightly colored hues of over-processed hair and his legendary different colored eyes, have helped him use his persona as a canvas like few before, or after, him. His complete and reverential devotion to designing and applying alluring, avant garde makeup solidified his place as a glam rock god and makeup and style icon.

Born David Robert Jones in Brixton, London, Bowie studied art, music, and design all through school. It was a gift from his father of American music on 45s that set him out on a patern forward of pursuing music as a passion. Bowie formed his first band at the age of 15, playing guitar heavy, U.S. influenced rock music and making money by playing local weddings and events.

Pushing forward to find his own place in the music business, he quickly changed his stage name from Davy Jones — which had him being confused with the Monkee’s front man — to David Bowie. His new name has been reported to have been based on the American frontiersman and all around bad-ass James Bowie. Bowie became obsessed with the avant garde and got involved in dance and the dramatic arts as well as music. He used this to hone his performance skills and stage presence. This also began his love of the bizarre and he began pushing boundaries and immersed himself in the creation of personae as part of his musical performance.

Bowie truly began to catch the eye — and ear — of the public in July, 1969, when his song Space Oddity reached the top five in the UK. With the release of that song, Bowie finally charted after two failed albums. Soon after, he married American “it girl,” Angela Barnett and she became a major influence in his art and instrumental in the development of his career until their separation in 1980.

In the early ‘70s, with a new, flamboyant, androgynous, alter-ego, Ziggy Stardust, Bowie released his hit single Starman, and the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, creating a cult following and changing pop culture by reinventing himself with a new personae, new musical direction and new visual presentation with every release.

In 1975, Bowie achieved his first major American crossover success with the song Fame coupled with the hit album, Young Americans, which he called his Plastic Soul movement. The sound was a radical shift in style that initially alienated many of his original fans — while garnering him new ones and a new level of international notoriety.

After uneven commercial success in the late ‘70s Bowie hit it big in the ‘80s with his collaborations with Queen. He then had the most success of his career with the song Let’s Dance, cementing him as a master of style and change. He challenged convention throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s and he continues to do so to this day, experimenting with musical styles ranging from blue-eyed soul to new romantic, and from industrial to adult contemporary, with his latest album, The Next Day, just released in March, 2013.

In his personal life, Bowie is a husband — he married model and international icon, Iman, in 1992 — as well as a father and a supporter of many charitable causes. Dividing his time between Manhattan and London, Bowie puts his name and his money behind charities whose causes include domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, women’s issues, weapons reduction and world peace. He is most passionate about charities that benefit and protect children and stand up against human rights violations. He and Iman chair and support organizations around the word, and his tireless work for Save the Children, Keep a Child Alive, and Every Mother Counts, is considerable.

Bowie’s legacy in the world of fashion, music and beauty continue to be legendary. Rolling Stone Magazine placed him in top 100 greatest artists of all time. He has been named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and throughout his career he has sold an estimated 140 million albums. He has been awarded 14 Platinum, 16 Gold and 8 Silver albums, in the UK and the United States. He turned down Knighthood from the British Empire in 2003 as he thought it wasn’t what he’d spent his life working for.

For more than four decades, David Bowie’s innovative songs and stagecraft brought a new dimension to popular music and his use of costume and makeup to tell unique and creative stories, are among the most recognizable and referenced images and looks in the world. With new work, videos and performances still coming, we look forward to David Bowie being an icon for years to come.

Words James Vincent
Illustration Joe Dulude II
Icon David Bowie was previously published in the Spring 2013 issue of the print edition of On Makeup Magazine



1 thought on “ICON: DAVID BOWIE

  1. I became a fan of Mr. David Bowie when I heard ” Fame ” his Charisma & Style were Impeccable. I also Loved his speaking Voice and Humor during interviews. Thank God for his Existence, his Free Spirit will be Sorely Missed. Thank You Icon!

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