To close my Week of Bowie, I’m paying tribute to the most influential fashion designer you’ve never heard of and the unsung hero of the entourage, Freddie Burretti (aka Frederick Burrett) the star’s personal tailor in the years ’70-’74.
I’ve seen the David Bowie Is… exhibition twice on its tour, in Berlin and Groningen. Each time, I’ve been struck by Burretti’s remarkable designs. It’s fair to say his work stands out as a highlight in the esteemed company Kansai, McQueen, Mugler and Slimane, all represented in the collection.
Burretti became friends with Bowie in 1970. He’s name checked in All the Young Dudes and it’s said Moonage Daydream is about him. For a few years he was Bowie’s principal stylist, creating the quilted jumpsuits of Ziggy Stardust, the tailored suits of Diamond Dogs and much of the colourful wardrobe that defined the star’s style of the time. The two parted company in 1974 and Burretti drifted into obscurity. He passed away in 2002, aged just 49.
Burretti’s designs were bold, visionary and pioneering. His innovative tailoring and vibrant colours are a clear precursor to the styles that appear in the following decade. The hip-skimming jackets, loose-fitting pants and pagoda shoulders all appear light years ahead of their time. I had to look twice at the double breasted blue suit from the Diamond Dogs tour to convince myself it had in fact been made in 1974, and not ten years later as I originally thought.
The cream of the crop, though, is the iconic suit worn by Bowie in the Life on Mars video. It’s an exquisite piece of tailoring, skilfully merging the conventions of menswear and womenswear in a way that reads neither masculine nor feminine, just flat-out fabulous (how great did it look on Kate Moss!) The turquoise taffeta still shimmers and every seam is flawlessly rendered. A striped shirt, metallic tie and two-tone shoes are high-contrast details that make the whole look sing.
No way can I ever come up with something this fabulous, but I can dream of a Life on Mars in a lilac mohair blazer, patterned button down shirt (both Paul Smith) blue tailored silk-mix pants and striped heels by Balenciaga. Since I don’t have a necktie I added a chandelier crystal pendant to finish it off.
Freak out in a Moonage Daydream, oh yeah!
Freddie Burretti Youtube playlist: