A Letter to David Bowie by Cato Andriessen

"I don't know where I'm going from here, but I know it won't be boring." – David Bowie


 Dear David Bowie,

You were a rebel in every way. Whether it be through music, art, words or looks, you always found ways to go against the norm.

As a 13-year-old girl in middle school struggling to express myself, you were a representation of everything I wanted to be. Fearless, rebellious, unapologetically yourself. I was, and still am, infinitely inspired by your style. You reinvented yourself time after time, matching clothes to alter egos. You were the embodiment of the clothes I was too afraid of wearing. Looking at your outfits provided an insecure, preteen me with the strength and confidence I needed to stay true to my style. You reminded me that fashion is self expression. No matter how insignificant an outfit might seem, fashion can be its very own form of rebellion.

I’ve always been fascinated by your attitude towards fashion. However, I read one of your interviews with writer Ben White a while ago and found the following statement quite peculiar:

“I never really had much of an interest in fashion. You can take it to a philosophical level: style is about the choices you make to create the aspects of civilization that you wish to uphold. I will buy a chair for my house. What style of chair are you gonna buy? Everything we look at and choose is some way of expressing how we want to be perceived. I mean, why bother choosing a chair because it looks a certain way? Because there’s gonna be something about that chair that says something about you, and it applies to everything you do.”

I have a hard time believing that first part. If you never had an interest in fashion, why the costumes? Why matching the outfits to the music? Why all that glitter? I’m no fool, David. You’re not going to tell me that you didn’t like fashion. You breathed new life into fashion like the shape-shifting rockstar you were.

Your sense of style was detached from anything trend-related. You used your clothing as a tool to further define your identity, rather than a way to make yourself look attractive. You dressed only for yourself. Whether you were Ziggy Stardust or Major Tom, your outfits were always in sync with your persona. From skintight catsuits to eye patches, you rocked absolutely everything. And that fierce commitment to being who you are has inspired both audiences and designer collections alike.

I like to approach fashion the same way you do: everyone should dress for themselves, not others. In doing so, I am able to express myself and take risks, have fun.  As a teenage girl becoming aware of society’s expectations of how a girl should dress, you served as a genderless role model for me. You showed me that dressing androgynously was okay. You empowered me when I felt insecure. You’ve been there for me when I’ve felt lost.

Thank you, David Bowie, for showing me a side of fashion I had never seen before. You have inspired me endlessly. You have helped me and so many others around the world find their inner rebel.

Hot tramp, I love you so