❚ THE TEENAGED GIRL who inspired David Bowie to give Ziggy Stardust livid red hair died this month from cancer at her home in Worthing. Daniella Parmar belonged to the circle of “piss-elegant champagne-drinking” young night-owls who Bowie met with his wife Angie at London’s Sombrero nightclub in 1971. During this Hunky Dory period he was wearing the Mr Fish man-dress and had long cascades of blond hair.
The pals included “fun-loving glamour girl” Wendy Kirby and her flatmate Freddie Burretti (Bowie’s handsome costume designer, who went on to create Ziggy’s exotic and sexual one-piece outfits). Daniella was of Indian extraction and noted for her emphatic eye make-up and top-to-toe style with special focus on her hair – in 2002 Bowie confirmed that its constantly changing colour had convinced him “of the importance of a synthetic hair colour for Ziggy”.
Wendy says: “We were the ‘young dudes’ who shaved off our eyebrows just for camp, because you could paint them on higher up — that gave us a strange unearthly look which David adopted. He was always open to suggestions and went through our wardrobes like a magpie!”
The Ziggy Stardust tour was already on the road when Bowie decided on the dramatic change of hairstyle. On 17 March 1972 they were to play at the Town Hall in Birmingham when a photographer called Mick Rock turned up to interview Bowie. They hit it off so well he soon became his official photographer. Kevin Cann’s seminal account of Bowie’s early life, Any Day Now, recalls that crucial day. . .
“ For the show his hair has been dyed light red and styled by Suzi Fussey, but David tells Rock he is going to make his hair ‘even redder’. Swayed by his Sombrero friend Daniella’s use of different hair dyes, not long after the Birmingham performance David shows Fussey the exact tone he desires in a photograph of model Marie Helvin in a recent fashion magazine. Fussey applies a bright red colour-fast dye and spikes the crown with Guard, a strong setting lotion. The Ziggy hairstyle is born. ”
Daniella became an intimate member of the Bowie household, playing nanny to their son Zowie, and shared the Bowies’ last Christmas party in Britain before they departed for the USA in March 1974.
One of Daniella’s last public outings was in 2015 at the premiere of Lee Scriven’s film titled Starman: Freddie Burretti – The Man Who Sewed The World. She died a fortnight ago on 3 November and friends report that the funeral chapel was decorated with pictures of her with David.