Tag Archives: Ziggy Stardust

➤ Burretti movie adds an epic and essential chapter to the Bowie story

Starman, Freddie Burretti, film, biopic, Lee Scriven, David Bowie, The Man Who Sewed The World, glam rock, fashion

Connected by otherness: Burretti and Bowie

Click to zoom down to Andy Polaris’s film review

◼ BETWEEN 1970 AND 1974 FREDDIE BURRETTI not only became David Bowie’s teenage lover but gave visual expression to the singer’s pop ambition. When they met Bowie was 23 and married to Angie while former Mod face Freddie, with his 28-inch waist and voluptuous long-hair, was as sexy as many another 19-year-old in that moment when David Johansen, Marc Bolan and Bowie were creating what became known as glam rock. But Freddie and David clicked instinctively in what Bowie calls their “otherness”, much of which derived from their sexuality. His career rebirth as an alien on Planet Earth was a masterstroke of pop invention and it was Burretti who created the exotic and brazenly sexual one-piece style of costuming in lush fabrics that we associate with Ziggy Stardust.

A new documentary biopic was previewed in London last night and not only breathes fresh life into familiar Bowie music but pieces together a unique chapter about his personal relationships against the austere climate of Britain in the 70s. Director Lee Scriven captures on film a score of eye-witness accounts, chief among them Freddie’s brother Stephen, his special friend and flatmate Wendy Kirby, his younger It-girl protégée Daniella Parmar, and biographer Kevin Cann.

Freddie Burretti , David Bowie, fashion,

Burretti stripes 1973: Bowie photographed on the Aberdeen express by Mick Rock

Titled Starman: Freddie Burretti – The Man Who Sewed The World, the biopic’s impact is cumulative. Burretti described himself as “just a dress designer” – raised in Hackney, transplanted at 14 to Bletchley in the home counties, then escaping at 18 back to London to live the life – yet by the time the on-screen talking heads arrive at GQ editor Dylan Jones, it becomes clear that a body of opinion today ranks Burretti alongside giants such as Zandra Rhodes, Vivienne Westwood and even Alexander McQueen, whose design talent blossomed more than a decade later.

Indeed, Burretti’s “stylish, yet slightly whimsical approach to tailoring” and the enduring influence of his adventurous cutting in several suits of the moment during 1973–74 is thoroughly acknowledged in the V&A catalogue to its touring exhibition, David Bowie Is. The singer’s blurring of the line between stage wear and day wear persuades an impressive list of high-fashion designers to admit their debt to him, including Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy whose SS2010 show opened with a black-and-white striped blazer in a blatant tribute to the one Bowie was famously photographed wearing on an intercity train in May 1973.

Bowie told Fan magazine in 1974: “Freddie is extremely patient. He just listens to my ideas and has this sort of telepathy, because whatever I think of in my mind he produces for real. I just hope he’ll continue to design incredible clothes for me.”

The tragedy is that the Burretti-Bowie partnership ended that year, over a “financial disagreement”, according to Kevin Cann’s book Any Day Now. Immediately, Burretti slipped out of the public eye.

, Freddie Burretti, David Bowie, glam rock, man-dress,gay issues,

Curious magazine, 1971: Bowie wears his Michael Fish “man-dress” and plans to create a band called The Arnold Corns to showcase Freddie as “the next Mick Jagger”

The affair had begun in Kensington’s fashionable gay disco Yours Or Mine beneath the Sombrero restaurant. The Bowies were regulars, and one night David spotted Freddie cutting a dash on the up-lit dancefloor. Angie Bowie crossed the room to ask him and Wendy to join them for a drink.

Angie said in 1999: “You have no idea how handsome this man was. Freddie was wearing white Spandex hotpants with a navy blue sailors trim and a sailor shirt with short sleeves out of the same white Spandex edged in navy on the collar and sleeves. He looked totally Scandinavian with high cheek-bones and lots of blond hair, but he was tall and had big hands and feet speaking of his artistry and physical stamina. Every night he made new clothes to wear. He was so brilliant.”

At last night’s screening flatmate Wendy also remembered that day: “Angie approached us and asked us to have a drink. We hesitated and that’s what’s missing from the film – our sheer arrogance. We nearly said no!” She added: “Watching the film was quite strange. No one imagines their youth will be portrayed on screen and it was a little unsettling. I think the film was an affectionate glimpse of a time long gone. I didn’t appreciate at the time how talented Freddie really was. Lee’s film brought home how exceptional his work was. I’m proud to have known the man who was ‘just Freddie’ to me.”

❏ Read on for the reaction of Andy Polaris, ex-Blitz Kid and 80s pop singer who regards Bowie as one of rock’s serious gods.

➢ Starman director Lee Scriven’s website

“man-dress” , Wendy Kirby, Freddie Burretti, David Bowie, fashion,

Angie and David at home to Freddie: the host wears his Michael Fish designed “man-dress” that was banned from his American album cover for The Man Who Sold the World

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
1970, Where to draw a line between glitter and glam

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2011, I danced in Bowie’s lost Jean Genie video, by Wendy Kirby

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2010, A feast of Bowie-ana served in waffeur-thin slices by Kevin Cann

Last night’s preview: click any pic below to launch slideshow



Freddie Burretti, Daniella Parmar, fashion,Ziggy Stardust

Designer and It-girl, Freddie and Daniella: striking a pose that David and Angie came to emulate

Andy Polaris, singer

Andy Polaris

❏ Starman: The Man Who Sewed The World gives a fascinating insight into the relatively unknown life of fashion future legend Freddie Burretti. This working-class lad had a creative mind able to absorb everything he loved about Mod fashion, having taught himself to make his own clothes at an early age. With enough dedication and focus to learn tailoring as well as the youthful dynamics of the dancefloor, he was obviously adept at observing styles and reworking looks to his own vision.

A chance meeting at the disco lead to the serendipitous collaboration with Bowie and the singer’s as yet not fully realised Ziggy Stardust wardrobe. These bold textured prints and coloured jumpsuits were, and are, extraordinary for capturing Bowie’s otherness at that time. Aladdin Sane prints that looked like Liberty worn by the androgynous male rock star blew our tiny minds back then.

What I loved about the movie was seeing the genesis of Freddie’s glamour vision in a mundanely drab landscape played out with the innocence of his mainly, it appears, female friends notably Wendy bf and Daniella protégée. Wonderful to hear their counterpoint stories of that inner ciricle involved in Bowie’s creation of Ziggy with Freddie’s ascendant talent and confidence.

The pairing of Freddie and Daniella wearing his clothes is groundbreaking. Looking at those photos we see the androgynous beauty of Freddie (like a still from James Bidgood’s 1971 cult movie Pink Narcissus) teamed with Daniella’s Asian complexion and short spiky blonde crop. They had already created David and Angie’s classic image before the rest of the world saw it!

fashion, David Johansen, David Bowie

Coordination of styles, 1973: which came first, Johansen of New York Dolls or Bowie in Ziggy coat?

In fact, Daniella also anticipates Ava Cherry singing with Bowie in Young Americans several years later when we note the similar styling – how did that happen?

From my own black perspective, a brown or black face was something I would immediately zone in on, seeing someone like you up there on a stage and hanging out with the stars. Marc Bolan having the black Gloria Jones as his wife was a big bloody deal to some black kids, for sure.

Freddie’s whole look seems to have been adopted wholesale by David Johansen of the New York Dolls, so the influence of this young British designer can today be recognised rippling out into the wider pop culture although it probably wasn’t acknowledged at the time. Maybe a parallel could be drawn between Freddie and Alexander McQueen – both gay and from working-class backgrounds – though McQueen came to work with Bowie as an established star, whereas Freddie created an image that made Bowie a star. Today it is unreal to imagine any designer could achieve such pivotal pop success without a massive team behind them.

➢ Video: Andy Polaris sings Mr Solitaire on Top of the Pops


➤ Farewell Trevor the mutton-chopped Spider from Mars

Ziggy Stardust, Spiders from Mars,plaque, Woody Woodmansey, Trevor Bolder ,

March 27, 2012: Spiders Mick Woody Woodmansey and Trevor Bolder being interviewed at the unveiling of the plaque to Ziggy Stardust in Heddon Street, London. Photo © Shapersofthe80s

➢ Trevor Bolder dead at 62 Long-time Uriah Heep bassist and Spiders From Mars icon Trevor Bolder has died of cancer at the age of 62, it’s been confirmed. Bolder joined David Bowie’s backing band in 1971, alongside guitarist Mick Ronson – with whom he’d played in The Rats – and drummer Woody Woodmansey… / Continued at Classic Rock

David Bowie tonight paid his own tribute:
“Trevor was a wonderful musician and a major inspiration for whichever band he was working with. But he was foremostly a tremendous guy, a great man.”

➢ A very frank Trevor Bolder interview at Let It Rock, 2003
Q: How did you, hailing not from London, arrive at that John Peel session?
A: Mick Ronson and Woody [Woodmansey] had played on The Man Who Sold The World album with David Bowie. They did that album with him and then left – they didn’t want to play with Bowie any more – so they came up to Hull, where I joined them, and we played for about six months as a band. And Bowie rang up one day and asked if we’d go down and do this John Peel show with him, cause he needed a band. So we said, “OK, we’ll come down and do that”. That’s basically how it all started.

Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie,Spiders from Mars,Trevor Bolder

Playing bass with Bowie, 1973: Bolder sporting his fantastical mutton-chop whiskers

➢ Trevor Bolder’s life at NNDB
Gender: Male
Religion: Scientology
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Bassist
Nationality: England
Executive summary: Uriah Heap bassist

Yet another native of Hull, Yorkhire, to become important to the London music scene during the 1970s, Trevor Bolder was born to a strongly music-oriented family, taking up both cornet and trumpet at the age of nine and performing with local brass bands during his adolescence. In his teens he took the direction followed by many other young males of his generation and switched to the guitar, at which time he formed The Chicago Star Blues Band with his brother. Stints in other Hull-based bands like Jelly Roll and Flesh came later, with Bolder eventually trading in his guitar for an electric bass; meanwhile, food was kept on the table through a series of day jobs that ranged from hairdresser to piano tuner.

In 1970 he received an invitation from fellow Hull native Mick Ronson to come to London and join Ronno – an outfit that had been active earlier in the year as The Hype, and which had served as a backing band for vocalist David Bowie. Ronno only managed one single (1971, Fourth Hour of My Sleep) before poor response prompted Vertigo, the band’s label, to abandon them; not long afterwards, however, Bowie enlisted most of the line-up (Ronson, Bolder and drummer Woody Woodmansey) for his fourth album Hunky Dory (1971). Thus the way was paved for the creation of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars in 1972, a highly theatrical concept band that would launch Bowie and his bandmates into international stardom… / Continued at NNDB

Ziggy Stardust,mime, David Bowie,Spiders from Mars,Trevor Bolder

Costumed by Kansai Yamamoto,1973: Bassist Bolder looking deeply uncomfortable in Japanese garb as his master Bowie goes into his Marcel Marceau mime routine

➢ “It is with great sadness that Uriah Heep announce the passing of our friend the amazing Trevor Bolder”

Trevor Bolder , Uriah Heep

Trevor Bolder onstage with Uriah Heep, 2011: He was due to play the Donington Park Download festival with Heep in June


➤ K West sign ‘possibly’ for sale in Bowie memorabilia show

Ziggy Stardust ,K West, Brian Ward,David Bowie,memorabilia ,Movie Poster Art Gallery,Paul Burston,Alex Hopkins

The long-lost K West sign in all its magical luminescence: the restored emblem of the Ziggy Stardust album sleeve is on display at MPAG, London. Captured in its mystic rays (above), writer Alex Hopkins of the quarterly Lifestyle magazine beigeuk.com with the always-on Paul Burston of Time Out London. (Nokia snap © Shapersofthe80s)

❚ AFTER ZIGGY’S 40TH ANNIVERSARY HULLABALOO comes a unique selling exhibition of Bowie graphic art and memorabilia from his golden years 1969–1981. On display this week in London for the first time in 30 years is the original K. West sign that featured in Brian Ward’s covershot for Bowie’s springboard 1972 album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. The record sleeve itself has long been as iconic a London image as Abbey Road’s zebra crossing. At last, the illuminated sign from 23 Heddon Street has been rescued by a music industry veteran and restored, and is on show at the Movie Poster Art Gallery, run by 80s Mud Club regular, Tim Maddison. He revealed to Shapersofthe80s that it may be for sale “at the right price”.

The exhibition highlights celebrated images created for Bowie by talents such as Brian Duffy, Edward Bell, Masayoshi Sukita, Guy Peellaert, Steve Shapiro and Eric Stephen Jacobs. Original posters and large-format promotional displays on Bowie in the 70s are hard to come by, let alone buy, so this show is a treat. At the preview, a 3-ft wide original RCA in-store display for Diamond Dogs was snapped up at £1,250. A fab Scary Monsters in-store stand was still for sale today at £950.

Bowie graphics: five of the images for sale this week

➢ David Bowie: Sound and Vision at the The Movie Poster Art Gallery, London (Nov 17–Dec 1)

➢ View more classic Bowie images for sale this week

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❚ KNOWN AS THE MAN WHO changed the colour of Bowie’s left eye, painter George Underwood is showing his recently discovered 1975 oil painting of the Hunky Dory cover shoot [below] in London next month. He stumbled upon the 32 x 38-inch original while sorting through some old artworks and now it’s on sale for £16,000.

Bowie’s schoolfriend and former musician, Underwood as a painter adopted an imaginative style that refers to Bosch, Bruegel and mannerism. He is among an eclectic mix of ten contemporary artists selling direct through The Art for Art’s Sake Show at The Gallery in Cork Street next month. Rather more affordable Bowie mementoes are his limited edition giclée prints which include Width of a Circle (1969, £500), seen on the back cover of the UK David Bowie LP on Philips… Stardust Memories (1972, £350), a Ziggy era painting that was reproduced as a poster… The Man Who Fell to Earth (1975, £650), seen on the cover of the Pan Books film tie-in.

George Underwood , Hunky Dory,David Bowie,Cork Street, artwork

Rediscovered: George Underwood’s 1975 painting of the Hunky Dory cover

➢ The Art for Art’s Sake Show: the New Kids on the Block (Dec 3–8)

➢ At Underwood’s own online gallery, collectable enamel brooches of Ziggy Stardust cartoons


2013 ➤ Bowie officially not “devastated” as fab retrospective show goes ahead at the V&A

David Bowie, lyrics, pop music, retrospective, memorabilia, exhibition, William Burroughs,Victoria & Albert Museum

Photography showing at the V&A: David Bowie and William Burroughs, 1974. Photograph by Terry O’Neill. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive 2012

❚ WHAT A COUP! FIRST CAME THE OFFICIAL DENIAL. A press release from Bowie Towers last week denied the godlike one’s involvement in an upcoming retrospective exhibition in London at the Victoria & Albert Museum. “I am not a co-curator and did not participate in any decisions relating to the exhibition,” he said, adding however: “The David Bowie Archive gave unprecedented access to the V&A and museum’s curators have made all curatorial and design choices. 

A close friend of mine tells me that I am neither ‘devastated’, ‘heartbroken’ nor ‘uncontrollably furious’ by this news item.


➢ Listen online to World At One discussing
next year’s Bowie exhibition

Then came today’s official announcement. When the V&A confirmed that its show will “explore the creative processes of Bowie as a musical innovator and cultural icon”, the BBC’s lunchtime current affairs bulletin, World at One, interviewed a key curator without a single mention that this show doesn’t open until next spring.

Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie,stage costume, Kansai Yamamoto

Ziggy stage costume by the Japanese fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto who described Bowie in 1972 as “neither man nor woman”. This outfit goes on show next year. (Photograph by Polkadot.tv)

After three years of negotiation, Geoffrey Marsh, the curator of performance, and Victoria Broackes, curator of theatre, were rightly exultant to have pulled out the Bowie plum. “He has had so much influence in other areas — film, theatre, fashion, design. In fact, he impacts on all departments of the V&A,” Marsh said, heading off recent criticism that pop-star memorabilia was rather a lightweight subject to justify its own claim to be “the world’s greatest museum of art and design”.

Most of the 300 objects going on show were collected by Bowie over his lifetime: handwritten lyrics, costumes, posters, instruments, stuff he regarded as important records of his career. Marsh says: “It is an extraordinary collection and there are very few performers who have hung on to their collections. In all areas of Bowie’s creativity, he is still having an impact today.”

Potential exhibits shown off at today’s press launch included a model of the set for the Diamond Dogs tour, the spangly catsuit designed by Freddi Burretti for Bowie’s 1972 performance of Starman on Top Of The Pops, Natasha Korniloff’s Pierrot costume from the 1980 video for Ashes to Ashes, and Alexander McQueen’s Union Jack coat created for the cover of Earthling in 1997.

➢ Showtime at the V&A — from The Guardian’s coverage, Sep 5:

No one from the V&A has sat down face to face with Bowie and, given he does not fly, it would be a surprise to everyone if he even made it along.

David Bowie, portrait, retrospective,  exhibition, Victoria & Albert Museum

Self portrait in pose also adopted for the album cover of “Heroes” 1978. © The David Bowie Archive 2012. Image © V&A Images

“I’m sorry to say I’ve never met him,” said co-curator Victoria Broackes. “Of course I’d love to and I really hope he likes it but in a way, because the V&A always takes editorial control of what it produces, it is better that we haven’t met him.”

Geoffrey Marsh said there were piles of books on Bowie – “I’m sure there will be many more university doctorates” – but this is the first significant exhibition and he promised it would be “groundbreaking” and hopefully achieve the almost impossible task of appealing to both diehard fans and an audience too young to really know how much of an influence Bowie was and still is.

That present tense is important and the V&A has called its show David Bowie is. “It underpins a key tenet of the exhibition,” said Broackes. “David Bowie’s impact today.”

It will examine what has influenced him – German expressionism, music hall, Theatre of Cruelty, French chanson, surrealism, Brechtian theatre, avant-garde mime, musicals and Japanese kabuki to name a few – and the countless artists he in turn has influenced… / Continued at Guardian Online


➢ Enigmatically titled David Bowie is, the exhibition runs March 23–July 28, 2013, at the V&A, London SW7 2RL. Book online, in person at the museum, or by phone +44 (0)20 7907 7073 where you will spend a lifetime on hold. Top ticket price is an outrageous £15. By booking online you avoid being blackmailed into making an additional donation to the museum, though the V&A has the cheek to add a “handling charge” to all purchases! (Update: Ticketing has subsequently been farmed out to a theatre agency which has upped the price to £15.80 to include its own “booking fee”!)

How dare they, with Gucci sponsoring the exhibition? Gucci could readily pick up the whole bill for the show, and the V&A’s exploitative tactics let the institution down badly. Brace yourselves for a catalogue priced in similar “We saw you coming” mode (a catalogue for the last major show, British Design, cost £40). This is an ugly and accelerating trend among the capital’s cultural institutions.

Is Bowie alive or dead?

➢ Definitely alive — but busy on the school run, says The Times’s chief rock critic, Sep 5:

Ever since 2006, when he last performed live, rumours have circulated that David Bowie is at death’s door. What has he been doing? Taking his 12-year-old daughter to and from school in New York, according to his publicist. Having been too busy as an epoch-defining rock star to be a hands-on father to his son Zowie (now the film-maker Duncan Jones), Bowie is now helping out with his daughter’s homework. He is living through a period of normalcy that his early fame denied him. The state of his heath is unknown… / Continued at Times Online

David Bowie, Starman, 1972, Top of the Pops,V&A , exhbition, tipping point, BBC

The moment the earth tilted July 6, 1972: During Starman on Top of the Pops, David Bowie drapes his arm around the shoulder of Mick Ronson and a new generation of pop is triggered. The spangly 26-inch waist catsuit by Freddi Burretti will be on show at the V&A retrospective in 2013. Videograb © BBC

1970 ➤ Where to draw a line between glitter and glam:
naff blokes in Bacofoil versus starmen with pretensions
— analysis by Shapersofthe80s


➤ 40 years of Ziggy + another feast of Bowie

Ziggy Stardust, Spiders from Mars, David Bowie, Top of the Pops,✱ Who needs reminding it’s 40 years since “I picked on you-oo-oo”? June 6 1972 saw the release of one of the most influential albums ever recorded — David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars

➢ Bowie evening on BBC4, Friday June 22

9:00 BST David Bowie and The Story of Ziggy Stardust — exhilaratingly observant new TV doc narrated by Jarvis Cocker, 2012, directed by James Hale and exec-produced by Paul Bullock who brought us the brilliant Prince, A Purple Reign last year. Tight, total and definitive (in everything but an Angie contribution), it has contemporary rivals queueing to heap on the respect while nailing the genius with several gasp-out-loud revelations (you will sit up when Mike Garson hits the piano!). Quote of the era: “I can’t stand the premise of going on in jeans and being real.” A landmark. Repeated June 23, 25 and on iPlayer

10:00 The Genius of David Bowie — energised compilation of best archive performances, 2012, with breathtaking mature renderings of Heroes, Ashes and Fashion, plus magnificent Lou Reed and Iggy Pop as guests among others you’d rather ignore. Also June 23, 25

11:00 Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars — D A Pennebaker’s plodding, murky and utterly amateur film might as well have been bootlegged going by its appalling camerawork, shoddy editing, fudge sound (relieved only by its backstage footage revealing Bowie as the angst-ridden artiste). It was shot live at Hammersmith Odeon in 1973, the night Ziggy made his last stand even with Mick Ronson at peak power. “The first we knew we were unemployed was onstage,” the drummer Woody admitted at the Ziggy plaque unveiling in March. Historical curio worth a first watch just so you can feel the heat of real fan worship. If only the evident genius of Bowie himself could have been more watchably captured! But luckily I saw the whole wowie spectacle from Row C and the Standard was the first paper to break the news next morning. (This was the world pre-Twitter, remember.)

12:30 David Bowie at the BBC — live concert at the Radio Theatre, 2000, brilliant mix of classic songs (Fame, Man Who Sold The World, Always Crashing, Wild is the Wind) plus Gail Ann Dorsey on bass guitar. Also June 23, 25


Where to draw a line between glitter and glam
— at Shapersofthe80s

If David Jones hadn’t become Bowie — at Shapersofthe80s

Behind Bowie’s “lost” Jean Genie video — at Shapersofthe80s


Birth of Glam , Gary Kemp , Marc Bolan,Radio 2, documentary, glitter✱ TONIGHT — Another brilliant radio doc on The Birth of Glam presented by Gary Kemp goes out June 13 at 10pm BST on Radio 2 … Two years ago under its original title The Glory of Glam it prompted a major assessment of the difference between glitter and glam here at Shapersofthe80s. At that time we said “If this documentary doesn’t win a Sony radio award, there’s no justice.”