The influences of art on David Bowie’s costumes

The English version of my article for the David Bowie Is exhibition at the Groninger Museum.

Originally I wrote this as a thesis for my Art History Bachelor. Before university I did a dressmaker training and in my third year at University I followed a course in Fashion History. There I learned about Dick Hebdige who has written the book Subculture: The Meaning of Style.

In his book he writes about spectacular subcultures like Punk and Teddy Boys. These spectacular subcultures dress flamboyant and have a style of their own. Most of those subcultures take regular objects – for example safety pins used by Punks – and change the meaning of the object by using them in a different way as intended. This is called bricolage. The spectacular subcultures want to say something with the things they wear. Hebdige doesn’t really give a method in his book to dissect what they could be signifying, so I tried to make one myself.

To find a way to take a look at what Bowie could’ve meant with his Glamrock clothes I decided to use Iconography. Which is a method that let you identify, describe and interpret an artwork. In this way I could find out in what tradition Bowie’s clothes would fit and what it could say about his clothes. Here’s an excerpt of the article. If you are interested in the whole article, please send me a message. There is also a Dutch version available.

Leave a Reply