No one really wants to think about death too much in the West. Somewhere along the line, we were taught to stay schtum on the subject and push it into the shady corners of taboo; yet death awaits us all. It’s an absolute certainty and with death comes life and in life, we try to bring as much colour as possible.
Someone who did just that – and more – was David Bowie. Trying to detail all of his life here between South London and New York City requires a weighty biographical tome, but due to his long creative life, with his first album released in 1967, it means that every generation has their own Bowie.
Those at the start had the pomp of Ziggy Stardust. Later came ‘soul’ Bowie with Young Americans. Then escaping the excesses of the U.S to Berlin came the triumvirate of Krautrock like albums: Low, Heroes & Lodger. Next, it was pop Bowie that saw his commercial star shine brightest (but was arguably the lowest creatively for him). Later came Tin Machine (and I think I’m the only person who likes that first album) and then albums that touched on a number of genres that illustrated a restless ambition to, sometimes borrow but always, experiment.
David Bowie’s music and style are never too far away from the conversations between cutters. When we have no customers in the shop cutter Oliver Cross and bespoke shirt maker Sean O’Flynn can be heard breaking out into a Hunky Dunky number. Sartorially too, Bowie was ahead of any game in town and constantly pushed the boundaries in this area while also looking incredibly cool in a beautifully cut suit.
A lot has been said about the mystery of the man and his ability to be front and centre of culture while also existing at its edges. A magician of sorts, other worldly of course, who had the ability to surprise us – with a new album on Friday (on his 69th birthday) and the biggest surprise of all, his death just a few days later; an event itself – it could be argued – a final bow on a career full of colour and the most incredible sound and vision.
David Bowie 1947 – 2016