Lisa and I were at the V&A for the launch of their sumptuous, thought-provoking and definitely unmissable David Bowie exhibition. For someone like me it’s a bit of a nostalgia fest. I was around when he wore many of the outfits from the seventies, the colourful Ziggy uniforms, the pastel suits with huge lapels and the loose fitting pants that billowed out when he danced. I’d forgotten how small he is, not just short but skinny as well – every woman there would have been delighted to be able to squeeze into these clothes.
There’s about 60 outfits in all, including most of the iconic ones, framed photos galore and film footage everywhere. After a small room that deals with David’s pre-‘Space Oddity’ days, chronology is abandoned in favour of spectacle but at the same time there’s an emphasis on how David was influenced by what was going on around him, his snatch and grab technique, and how he in turn influenced culture as others snatched and grabbed from him.
There’s almost too much to take in – artefacts dangle from the ceiling, handwritten lyrics are dotted around in cases and one video sees David explaining, fascinatingly, how he uses a gadget that creates random song lines from newspaper headlines. Towards the end I had to laugh at an outfit labelled ‘Ziggy Stardust day wear’ – did he really have his breakfast in that?
The setting/lighting is glorious, as you would expect from the V&A, the music is loud and the ‘location sensitive’ commentary on earphones definitely worth using. I’ve probably watched David’s magnificent performance of ‘Heroes’ at Live Aid 100 times by now but as I watched it again last night – on a gigantic screen – I found myself thinking how lucky I was to have been touched by this man, and how even if I watch it another 100 times I won’t tire of it. Don’t miss this exhibition.