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Look And Vision: BowieStyle by Paytress & Pafford

Most of David Bowie’s defining moments were a series not of sounds but visions. And it was these ever-changing styles that queered him as much as anything he ever said or sang: the President of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long Haired Men; the man’s dress, Ziggy Stardust on Top Of The Pops; Mick Rock’s live shots; Aladdin Sane‘s facial flash; the diamond dog’s bollocks; The Man Who fell To Earth‘s androgyne alien; the videos for Boys Keep Swinging and Ashes To Ashes; those shoes at the ’96 Brit Awards. Is it any wonder that most fans talk of falling in love with David Bowie at first sight?

The new book BowieStyle would have been pretty dammed good if it had been no more than a mere picture book, but Mark Paytress and Steve Pafford‘s accompanying text provides an illuminating and entertaining romp through David Bowie’s life and times. Bowie was always rock’s great sponge – a pioneer and populariser who never had an original idea in his life, but who was instead a brilliant synthesis of his countless influences. Here Paytress and Pafford reveal all his sources, explaining them so well that BowieStyle reads like a kind of Encyclopaedia Bowiettica.

How fitting for a book about Bowie that it pays to delve beneath the surface – style plus substance. Or, as David Bowie himself once so wisely remarked, “Fashion? Beep, beep!”

Richard Smith

First published: Gay Times, June 2000

Bowienet’s news story on the GT article

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Steve Pafford
Steve Pafford

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