“David Bowie is…” might be the most perfectly named exhibition. Opening this this week at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), it isn’t an artist retrospective in the traditional sense. Much like Bowie’s songwriting technique of cutting up lyrics and putting them back together for something that likely surprised even Bowie himself, “David Bowie is…” incorporates songs, costumes, album covers, photographs, music videos and hand-written lyrics and lets the viewer piece together his own interpretation of Bowie’s life and art. After all, David Bowie is still a work in constant progress, a chameleon always open to venturing to a new leaf, and an artist who has made ch-ch-ch-ch-changes an art form in and of themselves. Bowie has switched genres and alter-egos with the ease that most people change their socks. With that in mind, here are beauty lessons in being a chameleon that you can learn from David Bowie…
Create A Look Inspired By Unlikely Sources
Forget fashion magazines. Read National Geographic and get inspired by the imperfect symmetry of a tiger’s stripes. Go to a see a ballet, an opera, an art exhibit (the aforementioned “David Bowie is…” is a good place to start) or watch street buskers for an afternoon. When Bowie’s first album debuted to little fanfare, he didn’t go back to the studio right away to try a different approach; he became a mime. While his experimental 1968 mime troupe Feathers may have seemed like the exact opposite of having a band, his miming inevitably influenced his future creation of one of his greatest contributions to music, his Ziggy Stardust persona. Next time you want to switch up your eye shadow palette, why not look at Matisse paintings?
Play With Gender Roles
Beauty is really 90% attitude. Whether David Bowie was rocking long hair and bangs or wearing eye shadow, mascara and a lightning bolt across his face, part of the beauty of his various gender-bending aesthetics came from how the look made him feel and therefore behave. You don’t have to be over-the-top about it to reap the benefits either. Ladies, slick your hair back like Don Draper and go makeup-free for a day. Gents, paint your nails black or rock a man bun.
Indulge In Exciting Alter-Egos
From Ziggy Stardust to the slicked back style of the Thin White Duke, Bowie’s alter-egos took self-expression to extremes. Although everyday folk can’t exactly show up at the office with a new personality on the regular, you can rock alter-egos for even the most mundane of tasks in your free time. Next time you’re grocery shopping, wear fake eyelashes and big Dolly Parton hair and pretend you’re an ’80s soap opera star who’s time traveled to the Twitter era, for example. You’ll not only enjoy a break from your own reality, taking on a new persona makes people feel and act sexier, hence why role play has always been so popular in the bedroom.
Colour Outside The Lip Lines, Etc.
Bowie’s famous cover for Aladdin Sane features him decked out with red hair and a red and blue lightning bolt across his face and hot pink eyelids. Clearly, he didn’t let makeup tools define where the colours and textures would go on the canvas of his face. Paint your lips with Vaseline and cover them with glitter. Use a temporary hair dye to alter your brow colour dramatically for a night on the town. Give yourself a fake tattoo with a waterproof liquid eyeliner.
Grow Old… Period
Unlike other rock stars who attained eternal youth by kicking the bucket at 27 or aging ones who seem obsessed with staying young-looking forever via copious amounts of plastic surgery, Bowie has always made whatever age he is the new 30. He’s Bowie, after all… when he’s not Ziggy Stardust… or whoever he feels like being in the moment. Being a true chameleon means accepting that some of your colours are simply meant to be. When the leaves change, a chameleon must change too and not try in vain to be what he used to be the season before. By embracing the moment and the possibilities of the future, a true chameleon always ends up being the boldest shade of awesome that he can be.