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THAT vintage Rabbit Suit

Posted by Maria
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David Bowie, 1972.

There’s vintage and then there’s VINTAGE. If the distinction between the two gets harried, a solid point of reference would be the surprise appearance by the indomitable Kate Moss at last week’s Brit awards. Musical wonder and fashion trailblazer David Bowie was honored with his second “Best Solo Male Artist” award, but as he was unable to attend, he sent “his representative on earth” in his stead. The world’s most famous supermodel strode slyly onto the stage in a printed number that was instantly recognizable, Bowie’s infamous rabbit suit, otherwise known as the “Woodlands Creature” leather leotard. In her irresistible raspy voice, she shared his message:

"In Japanese myth the rabbits from my old costume that Kate's wearing live on the moon. Kate comes from Venus and I from Mars, so that's nice. I'm completely delighted to have a Brit for being the best male, but I am, aren't I Kate? I think it's a great way to end the day. Thank you very, very much and Scotland - stay with us."

Any appearance by Moss is noteworthy, but the Ziggy Stardust playsuit electrified her wittingly roguish smile, a notable reminder of the power a singular garment can imbue. Avant-garde Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto designed the suit in 1972, in the BASARA aesthetic, which was inspired by traditional Japanese woodblock prints. Bowie purchased the item from Kansai’s London boutique and wore it at the Rainbow Concert in August 19, 1972 (it was later remade by Natasha Korniloff). Kansai’s rock-fashion shows served to stimulate the elastic dimensions of Bowie’s eclectic experimentations with self-expression. The exchange of inspiration was mutual; Kansai stated in June 1973, “He has an unusual face, don’t you think? He’s neither man nor woman. I love his music and obviously that has influenced my designs, but most of all there’s this aura of fantasy that surrounds him. He has flair”. Other costumes soon followed, including iconic the Rites of Spring costume (1973) and the Asymmetric Knitted Bodysuit (1973).

The relationship between Moss and Bowie goes back over a decade; editors and photographers have cleverly played off their shared wispy looks and magnetic verve. Moss portrayed Bowie’s Aladdin Sane for British Vogue in May 2003, photographed by Nick Knight. The same year, Ellen von Unwerth snapped the two icons side by side for Q Magazine. More recently, Mert & Marcus cast her as a sultry Ziggy Stardust for Vogue Paris’ Music issue in December 2011.

While Bowie’s sartorial influence is one for the ages, it seems to be experiencing a particular upswing in the zeitgeist, due in large part to the spectacular retrospective presented at the V&A last year. Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2013 Couture collection was directly influenced by his experience with the exhibit, expressed in “the sophisticated experiments in contour padding, cartoonishly emphasizing sweetheart necklines and curving sleeve and hip contours”. (Hamish Bowles, Runway Review). Ziggy Stardust’s rabbit filled dreams will hopefully keep dusting the minds of designers around the world. “David Bowie Is” is currently on a tour around the world.

 

(L) Kate Moss, Brit Awards 2014. (R) David Bowie, 1972.

 

Kate Moss, Brit Awards 2014.

 

David Bowie, 1972.

 

David Bowie and Kansai Yamamoto, Asymmetric Knitted Bodysuit (left) and Rites of Spring Costume (right), 1973.

 

(L) Vogue UK, May 2003. (R) David Bowie.

 

(L) David Bowie, 1970s. (R) Vogue Paris, Music Issue, December 2011.

 

Kate Moss and David Bowie, Photo by Ellen von Unwerth, Q Magazine, October 2003.

 

Kate Moss and David Bowie, Photo by Ellen von Unwerth, Q Magazine, October 2003.

 

Jean Paul Gaultier, Fall 2013.

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