The singer and fashion pioneer Marc Bolan died 40 years ago but his look still shapes today’s styles.
Musicians have gone from fashion muses to fashion makers in the turn of a few seasons, one-upping style heroes of yesteryear like Mick Jagger and David Bowie — who nevertheless are routinely name-checked as inspiration in show notes.
Marc Bolan, a wild child who once had all of Britain groveling at his shiny heels.
Few words, if any, are devoted to the sartorial legacy of a man whose influence has done as much (if not more) to shape what we see on runways today: Marc Bolan, a wild child who once had all of Britain groveling at his shiny heels.
Forty years after his death in a car crash just days before his 30th birthday, it is time the rock ‘n’ roller was given his fashion due.“He wasn’t just a dedicated follower of fashion – he created fashion,” said Alan Edwards, the English publicist who worked with Bolan and Bowie.
Marc helped pioneer a look that endures to this day.
“With his black curls, made-up eyes, and uniquely androgynous look, Marc helped pioneer a look that endures to this day. His hippie-chic influence can be seen all over the place, from Lenny Kravitz to Kate Moss.”
Add to the list Slash (whose signature look owes much to Mr. Bolan’s portrait on the cover of the 1972 album “The Slider”), St. Vincent, James Bagshaw of the rock outfit Temples (a spit and image), and Johnny Depp in the “Alice” films. Generally speaking, though, the man behind Glam Rock is mostly shrouded in obscurity, while Bowie is hailed as its poster boy.
Born Mark Feld into a Jewish family in London, Mr. Bolan always knew he wanted to be famous. First, he did it solely with style, appearing in Mod outfits in magazine spreads and cardboard cutouts in department stores; later on, in the early ’70s, he did it with his band, T. Rex. Widely credited with pioneering the glam rock movement, Mr. Bolan, with his corkscrew hair, sparkly makeup, and flamboyant outfits, defined an era of glitter and gobbledygook. However, he never broke through in America.
Bolan widely credited with pioneering the glam rock movement defined an era of makeup and glitter.
“Many fashion designers reference him today,” said Oriole Cullen, senior fashion and textiles curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum. “You can see that again and again. For instance, at YSL, when Hedi Slimane was there, with the chunky platforms, baby-doll dresses, the snakeskin jackets.”
And GUCCI’s interstellar ad campaign, featuring ornate, shimmering jackets à la Bolan with wide lapels and sequins, has the T. Rex song “Ballrooms of Mars” written all over it.
Paul Smith, another Bolan fan, explained why. “Marc Bolan’s look was always incredibly theatrical,” he said. To the London designer, things have changed for the worse: “Sadly, it seems that there is almost no theater left in popular music. Lots of skinny jeans, T-shirts, and short haircuts.”
It’s easy to imagine that, had he lived, Mr. Bolan would have had a permanent place in the front row of every fashion week show. As Zowie Broach, head of fashion at the Royal College of Art and a co-founder and designer of the brand BOUDICCIA, said, he “would have been deeply adored today and would have adored fashion today.”
The article was adapted from the NYTimes article: “The Least-Known Most Influential Man in Fashion”
Friends say it’s fine, friends say it’s good; Everybody says it’s just like Robin Hood; Yeah!“20th Century Boy” – MarcBolan/T.Rex