Rebel, Rebel: Remembering David Bowie

With the news of David Bowie’s death at 69 in January, fans both young and old took to Facebook to mourn his passing. From the androgynous Ziggy Stardust in a flaming red “screwed down hairdo like some cat from Japan” to Aladdin Sane with a red-and-blue lightening bolt zigzagging across his face to the Thin White Duke, a persona he created for his 1979 album, Station to Station, Bowie was the master of reinvention. “Wherever music (or fashion or art or movies) were going, Bowie, always, had already been,” wrote Alynda Wheat for People. Born David Robert Jones, the pop icon changed his name to David Bowie in 1967, inspired by what he called the “ultimate American knife.” Thirty years later, he told Entertainment Weekly that he “had America mania when I was a kid. It was black music, it was the beatnik poets, it was all the stuff that I thought was the true rebellious subversive side.” Some of the credit for Bowie’s Aladdin Sane glam rock image goes to makeup artist Pierre LaRoche, whose style was heavily influenced by the Arab women who painted their eyes with kohl in his native Algiers. LaRoche started working with Bowie in 1972 after a stint at Elizabeth Arden where he soon became bored. The lightening bolt was inspired by imagery that was featured in early Ziggy Stardust costumes. According to LaRoche, Bowie’s face made the perfect canvas. “He has even features, high cheekbones and a very good mouth,” he said in 1973. Just two years later, LaRoche was hired to design the makeup for the cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Sadly, LaRoche, who had moved to the United States, died of AIDS in the early 1980s. Session stylist Teddy Antolin, who worked closely with Bowie in the early 1990s, introduced him to his second wife and the love of his life, Somalian supermodel Iman. Both were clients of his but had never met; Antolin thought they’d be a match, and he was right, of course. Brad Garcia, who owns a salon in Tulsa, OK, met Bowie after a concert in New York City in 1992. “He was absolutely the most gracious person I have ever met,” says Garcia. “A true gentleman.” 


Enjoying this story? Subscribe to the American Salon Newsletter

Get inspirational trends, techniques, tips, education and the latest beauty news delivered right to your inbox! To read on the go, sign up today to get weekly beauty news and updates.