MARCH 24, 2016
In fashion, few were (and still are) as inspiring as David Bowie, who will posthumously receive the Board of Director’s Tribute at the 2016 CFDA Fashion Awards in June.
Keanan Duffty was lucky enough to have worked with Bowie, and this coming Monday, CFDA Member will give a lecture titled “David Bowie: The Future’s Not What It Used To Be” at The Fashion Institute of Technology. Duffty, a British fashion designer and musician based in New York City, plans to discuss Bowie’s legacy with an eye to fashion – and specifically how he looked to Bowie for inspiration.
“It started as a fascination from when I was a little kid seeing him on television in 1970s,” Duffty recalled. “To me, he was the doorway to creativity. He was the muse, the one who made me think it was okay to be creative.”
In the early 2000s, Duffty’s collection was heavily influenced by Bowie, and so he approached his muse’s management with a concept for tour merch — but the timing was off then. He met his idol in 2006, and pitched him the idea to meet with Target about a potential collaboration. Duffty was naturally taken by Bowie.
“I was totally impressed by how he has this very otherworldly image in his performing career and, in person, was a real gentleman,” he recalled. “The thing that impressed me the most was his generosity as a collaborator. At one point, he said to me, ‘you have to make your name bigger.’ For a rock and roll icon and legend, that generous spirit made a big impression on me.”
The lecture is a nod to Duffty’s own fascination with Bowie. “Throughout the 1970s, Bowie was very much ‘the future,’” he said. “Whatever he did was a precursor to contemporary culture. He was a bit of a magpie for fashion. He grabbed what was around, used it and then moved on. In the process, he influenced people.”
Duffty himself learned valuable lessons from his Target collection. “I learned that the essence of what you are about has to be front and center,” he said. “We made a shirt that had the Moonage Daydream print on it. Target didn’t like the original style, but Bowie said, ‘That’s so Bowie, it has to be in the collection.”
He hopes the students will leave the lecture with valuable lessons of their own. As he put it, “The message of the lecture is for today’s students to find that inspiration for themselves.”
— Marc Karimzadeh
Homepage Photo: Jimmy King/Philip Angert