CO/VETTED: Bowie’s Border Crossing Jenn McNaughton The Co staff writer and fashion influencer Jenn McNaughton identifies and interprets fashion trends and inspirations of the moment, with a nod to where they’re coming from and how to make them your own. In the summer of 1971, Bowie recorded the album “Hunky Dory”, merging varying pop tones in symphonic style, harmonizing Space Oddity’s cosmic-rock influence and ultimately, founding a genre all his own. Hunky Dory gained global traction with the single, Changes; the song itself illustrating how imperative artistic reinvention was to this bona fide shapeshifter. Bowie’s many persona inhabited in a single body. He donned a range of looks from crisp white bowties and striped suit-jackets, to checked fur toppers and dresses form-fitted to a woman’s silhouette. Jean-Luc Ourlin – David Bowie – O’Keefe Centre in Toronto, 1976 – Flickr The fashion industry’s current interpretation of his iconic character could be a nod to the androgynous decade that was: an era of ephemeral bohemia. Bowie’s portrayal of the time was a divergence from the distinguished “norm” which was, in turn, a metaphor for his life. ????Cue: “Ch-ch-changes. Just gonna have to be a different man.” ???? My 18-year-old mother from 1984, when Bowie’s menswear vibe served as modelling inspiration—even for commercial campaigns. My most treasured look of his is one that blurs the segregation of gender and reveals an egalitarian view of the sexes. I call it the paradoxical pantsuit; sleek yet entirely oversized. It’s soft and unmasked while adhering to his futuristic mindset. A little less Joni Mitchell, a little more Bianca Jagger; less Cher, more Lennox…you get the jist. Picture this: a wide-legged pant reaching a disproportionate level with overgrown hair falling shoulder-length to a simple silk blouse—for both men and women. Although a more contemporary take may acknowledge a cut-off culotte, elongated skinny-scarf with a man-bun atop, I’ll leave that sound for the streets to reveal. If one thing’s concluded, it’s that the energy of the undefined (and at times, questionable) chameleon himself, prevails. Although his style evolution was more of a continuum with Ziggy Stardust making a debut shortly after in ’73, fashion’s gender fluidity remains deep rooted in his earlier days. He gave us the confidence to become performers in our own lives, acting on the stage that is our world. Future style influencers will, no doubt, cast an eye to the chapters that follow Bowie’s Life, on Mars and sway to the influence of Major Tom.