What the return of David Bowie means to men’s fashion

On March 23th, David Bowie will release his first album in ten years. When the news broke on his 66th birthday on January 8th, social networking sites immediately began to fill up with outbursts of an ecstatic and genuinely thankful nature. That’s how much people have missed Bowie. No other man has meant more – and continues to mean more – to the boundary-pushing and development of men’s fashion as Bowie. And if anyone ever doubted that fact, they need only experience the energy during January’s men’s shows, especially in Paris.

When Raf Simons played Bowie’s Modern Love for his finale, and young dandies in 70s-inspired cuts floated down the catwalk in the vein of Bowie’s Thin White Duke alter ego, there was no doubt how much the return of the artist means to menswear. These days, of course, Bowie doesn’t paint his face or go on stage in out-of-this-world costumes (apparently he’s not planning to hit the stage at all), but the point of Bowie’s return goes far beyond what he’ll be wearing. (Which will likely be a Dries Van Noten blazer and a white t-shirt.)

His new album marks one of the most important milestones in a decade for menswear, simply because of the fact that we’re reminded that a man like Bowie exists. A man, whose personal expression went far beyond tailoring or sportswear, or bohemian cool or LA chic or rock ‘n’ roll, or even androgyny. When it comes to style, Bowie stands for something so big that we still haven’t fully comprehended its meaning within the frames of menswear.

And that makes the mere renewed presence of him on the music scene one of the most inspiring things menswear could have dreamt of in this new decade. In Paris, Bowie’s presence continued through the week. Apart from the fact that every show goer was humming Modern Love on repeat (and still is), Walter van Beirendonck paid tribute to Ziggy Stardust with lightning motifs, while Paul Smith played a medley of Bowie’s greatest hits as guests were seated.

So much love and excitement surrounds the return of Bowie. And what we should expect to gain from it isn’t just a trailblazing album and a sentimental experience, but a revisiting and rediscovery – and new discoveries – of Bowie’s inexhaustible archive of music, art and style, and his superhuman character, all of which are a thousand times more inspiring to menswear than anything that’s ever followed. It will mean more to this year, both in fashion terms and in general cultural terms, than anything else. It’s a new day for men’s fashion. Behold – he is coming soon.

(Image via FDC)

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