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 Michael Jackson an icon of style again

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amyconell
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PostMichael Jackson an icon of style again

Michael Jackson an icon of style again


By BOOTH MOORE


The Los Angeles Times






For his song “Smooth Criminal,” Michael Jackson sports a 1940s-inspired pinstripe suit by Michael Bush.







In Michael Jackson’s “This Is It,” moviegoers do not see the elaborate costumes created for the tour that never was, bedazzled with 4 million Swarovski crystals and lighted up using LED technology.
Those are on display at the O2 Arena in London, where the engagement had been scheduled to begin in July, and will go on to New York and Tokyo.
But what they do see, in addition to tough and tender moments that humanize the pop singer, and one hell of a music and dance show, is an amazing array of designer outfits Jackson wore to rehearsals. A black leather, pagoda-sleeve jacket and a crystal-trimmed tuxedo are among pieces designed by the likes of Christophe Decarnin for Balmain, Kris Van Assche for Dior Homme and Tom Ford that speak to Jackson’s renewed relevance in fashion circles and the changing relationship between music and fashion.
Jackson became a style icon in the 1980s because of his individual, often theatrical styles for the stage — the single sequined glove, the white socks, the fedora. But his recent comeback effort was engineered with the help of fashion designers, with Decarnin recognizing the retro appeal of tennis-ball-shaped shoulders and over-the-top embroidery.
We had been used to seeing Jackson show up for courtroom appearances in scrubs, surgical masks, armbands and other kooky attire, some of it created by his longtime Los Angeles costume designers Michael Bush and Dennis Tompkins, who have a Michael mannequin in their Los Feliz studio.
But his look changed with fashion stylist Rushka Bergman, and it is her work that is mostly front and center in the film, as Jackson’s everyday clothes end up as his de facto costumes. A pint-sized powerhouse from Serbia who says things like “forever daaahling,” Bergman met Jackson when she styled him in Dior Homme for the October 2007 issue of Italian L’Uomo Vogue.
Some might say it was the beginning of his comeback when she put him in Hedi Slimane’s slim-line suits, fashionable at the time with Mick Jagger, Beck, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand and nearly every other credible male rocker.
The morning of the film’s premiere, Bergman pulled out snapshots of Jackson trying on clothes at his house, and called him her “supermodel” because he fit into anything, including women’s clothes. She emphasized his sex appeal (“He’s sooooooo sexxxy!”), which comes into focus in the film for the first time in a long time, despite Jackson’s surgerized face.
“When he wears Balmain on screen, you say, Wow!’” she said.
In the film, Jackson looks fabulous much of the time, save for a few unfortunate print shirts and patched sweat pants that could well be the influence of Los Angeles fashion impresario Christian Audigier, who had approached Jackson about collaborating on a line.
But more often, you notice sharp tailoring and light-reflecting color. In a Tom Ford tuxedo worn during dancer auditions; skinny orange Dior Homme jeans, a red leather Balmain motorcycle jacket with crystal-studded shoulders worn at the “Thriller” rehearsal; a Balmain suede military jacket worn with Alessandro Dell’Acqua gold sequin pants, Jackson looks powerful and contemporary.
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