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David Bowie Is

Ever since he broke into the burgeoning London music scene in the late ‘60s, David Bowie has been hailed as a pop culture icon. Decades later, the 66-year-old British artist, known for his fragile-sounding baritone croon and eclectic fashion ensembles, is still more relevant than ever. Fresh off the release of his twenty-fourth studio album, The Next Day, Bowie is now being exhibited like never before in a new retrospective at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

David Bowie is traces 50 years of Bowie’s life under the spotlight, and features a mix of fashion, photography, film, set designs and album artwork that illustrate his changing style, and shows how it altered in response to the cultural movements of the times. The exhibition contains 60 stage costumes, including his famed Ziggy Stardust bodysuits and the futuristic kimono creations by Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto for his Aladdin Sane tour, as well as portrait photography by Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts and John Rowlands. Also on view are some of Bowie’s personal mementos: sketches, storyboards, diary entries and handwritten set lists.

And considering that Bowie is, above all else, a musician, there’s an audio-visual component to the exhibition as well. Some of Bowie’s music videos are being projected, along with rare performance footage and excerpts from his feature films, such as Labyrinth (1986) and Basquiat (1996).

Some of the material in the exhibition may be years old, but, according to Martin Roth, director of the V&A, Bowie remains as true of an icon today as he ever was. “His radical innovations across music, theatre, fashion and style still resound today in design and visual culture and he continues to inspire artists and designers throughout the world,” he said in a press release.

David Bowie is runs now through August 11 at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

By Claire Stern

Photo credit: Victoria and Albert Museum, London