The world’s greatest musicians are renowned for their elaborate stage costumes and flamboyant sense of style. Whether it’s Michael Jackson’s sequinned white glove or Madonna’s infamous cone bra corset, a memorable outfit has the power to thrill audiences, dominate the headlines, shape pop culture and make history.
These animated illustrations show how six music superstars have invented and reinvented themselves with some of the most iconic outfits of our time.
Lady Gaga is celebrated for her unique – and controversial – style. But whether it’s 2009’s glass ‘Bubble Dress’ or her gravity-defying high heels, Gaga knows how to grab her fans’ attention. In 2010 she made history wearing a dress made of raw beef to the MTV Video Music Awards. Not everyone approved, but Time magazine called it the ‘fashion statement of the year.’
Michael Jackson mastered the art of reinventing himself. From the moment he left the Jackson 5 and ditched the afro, MJ’s image evolved dramatically. The King of Pop moonwalked his way to superstardom with military-style jackets, tilted fedoras and lots of sequins. His favourite accessories though? A pair of Aviator sunglasses and a single white glove.
The Material Girl is the ultimate fashion chameleon. She pioneered ‘messy chic’ in the 80s, performing ‘Like a Virgin’ at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards in a punk-inspired prom dress. Of course, she’s best known for her ‘cone bra’ corsets. Designed with the help of quirky French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, they featured heavily during Madonna’s 1990 Blond Ambition tour.
Freddie Mercury made history thanks to both his powerful vocal performances and his wild stage outfits. In the 1970s, he redefined masculinity with a string of ballet leotards and catsuits – including the famous ‘harlequin’ design. He’s perhaps best remembered for wearing a banana yellow jacket during Queen’s sell-out 1986 tour. As Mercury once remarked, “It’s not a concert you are seeing; it’s a fashion show.”
“If you’re really going to entertain an audience then you have to look the part too,” said David Bowie in 1976. It’s fair to say that he fulfilled that ambition thanks to his iconic Ziggy Stardust persona, which featured on the cover of his 1973 album, Aladdin Sane. He switched it up in the 1990s with sharp suits and an iconic Union Jack tailcoat, designed by Alexander McQueen.
Beyoncé’s style has evolved with her musical prowess. Her transformation from pop star to fashion icon began when she left band Destiny’s Child in 2003, swapping gold lamé and camouflage for Vegas showgirl-inspired looks and military jackets that paid homage to Michael Jackson. Bey even turned maternity wear into an epic trend, thanks to her gold beaded gown at the 2017 Grammy Awards. No wonder her fans are Crazy in Love.
Elaborate costumes might be all part of the act, but it’s clear that these world-famous performers share a passion for fashion. While some costumes might appear whacky, each one is designed to tell a story and captivate audiences.
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Glamour. (2018) We chart Lady Gaga’s most weird and wonderful style moments. glamourmagazine.co.uk
Edwards, J. (2015) Lady Gaga’s meat dress looks pretty bleak now. cosmopolitan.com
Marian Murek, D. (2012) INSPIRATION David Bowie 1971… Miu Miu FW2012//13. intothefashion.com
Billboard. (2013) David Bowie’s Fashion Evolution. billboard.com
Brownlee, J. (2016) 13 Immortal Costumes From The Closet Of David Bowie. fastcodedesign.com
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