13 October

Elton John is back in fashion

 

With a compilation and a tribute runway show from Gucci, the British exuberance of Elton John is being celebrated more than ever. An antidote to streetwear set to become the millennial uniform of choice?

By Violaine Schütz

Elton John, “Muppet Show” , 1977, David Dagley

Because his looks were so out there

 

In the 70s and 80s, Elton dared to wear anything, long before Bjork and his friends Madonna and Lady Gaga. Some of his outfits outdid even the flamboyance of Boy George, David Bowie, Liberace and Elvis in his Vegas years. The musician turned the stages of his concerts into veritable catwalks where improvising on the piano wasn’t his only skill. Tinted glasses, embroidered jackets, mad headpieces, crucifix earrings, frippery inspired by the musketeers, toreador outfits, fur, hats dripping with crystal, military gloves, geometric prints, a pink Mohican, multicolour feathers, shimmering suits, nothing was too beautiful, too crazy or too queer. The singer-songwriter didn’t hide his sense of humour either with cabaret and carnival garb (he even dressed like Minnie Mouse in the 70s and as a duck in 1983). These maxi glam rock looks have since inspired another exuberant character, Alessandro Michele, who made the musician his muse at the last Gucci runway show. Loud colours and unadulterated embellishment make us feel good on rainy days.

GUCCI spring-summer fashion show 2018.

GUCCI spring-summer fashion show 2018.

Because he doesn’t lie

 

Just as his virtuoso career was reaching its heights in 1976, Elton John announced to the world in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine that he was bisexual. Back then coming-out wasn’t the norm and the musician was greeted with virulent homophobic reactions. In 1984 Elton John married a German sound engineer who worked on his records, but got divorced four years later. A close friend of both Freddie Mercury and George Michael (whose death profoundly affected him), unlike them he fully assumed his homosexuality. Since 2005 he has been together with David Furnish, taking advantage of the British law allowing civil partnerships and sharing his wedding photos on Instagram. The couple have two children and Lady Gaga is their godmother. After several years of drug abuse in the 1980s, Elton became a committed and (very) generous activist in the fight against AIDS. He sang at the funeral of the young American, Ryan White taken by the illness in 1990 at the tender age of 18.

Elton John by Ed Caraeff

Because his music hasn’t aged

 

A compilation entitled Diamonds is being released on November 10th to celebrate 50 years of collaboration between Elton John and the lyricist Bernie Taupin with whom he composed the anthem “Your Song” in 1970. It includes many of the musician’s most famous nuggets reminding us how many hit singles he has to his name: “Honky Cat”, “Rocket Man”, featured on the playlist at the Fall-Winter 2017/18 Chanel show, “Candle In The Wind” written about Marilyn Monroe and then covered again for his friend Lady Diana, the inventive “Bennie And The Jets” plus so many more all being played by DJ’s in trendy parties today. In 40 years of career Elton John has sold 800 million albums and 200 million singles: unimaginable figures in an age that’s all about downloads. “Shine bright like a diamond” could have been a subtitle of this selection, an expression that fits like a glove on the 70-year old singer-pianist who always dared to sparkle.

Elton John, 1975, Terry O'Neill/Hulton Archives

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