By Jemi Ekunkunbor
Thursday the 25th of June 2009 will go down as one date many will not forget in a hurry. It was the day the lights deemed and the curtains dropped as the undisputed king of pop music, Michael Joseph Jackson, passed on in California. He was 50 years old. More than a week after, family and friends are left shocked and speechless while the sound of crying and wailing continue to reverberate across the globe.
Since his death, so much has been written and said about this music icon whose album Thriller, released in 1982, went down in history as the best selling album of all time with a world wide sale estimated at 109 million copies.
His traumatic childhood that never was has received knocks from the press. His brilliant career has also been praised to high heavens. Who knows, even for years to come, there may never be another like him for he was truly a legend by every standard.
Many today who were teenagers or young men and women in the 80â€™s would remember that sonorous, unmistakable voice of Michael Jackson, whose songs made parties tick then. If the tears flowed now, you would understand why.
This piece is not to talk about his music, which has been widely emphasised, but to look at his style for he had a style that was truly his own.
From 1968, when the Jackson 5 signed a lucrative deal with Motown, Michael showed he was a child with distinct character. His afro hairdo, which was a bit huge for a child his age, was like a crown upon his head. He had a childlike innocence about him that endeared many to him. His fashion began with simple tuxedos and bow ties. Sometimes, it was the conventional ties-very Americaan. He was a good thing in a small package waiting to unfold.
Colourful, floral shirt and slim narrow hip trouser, which was the vogue at that time, was a common thing feature of his costume. Sweaters over trousers was also one of his signature styles.
But, as the years went by and the young Michael came to his own, like a graceful butterfly, he flew â€œoff the wallâ€. He was already his own man by 1979. He had cut his teeth, not just with music but with fashion.
In 1982 when Michael released his album Thriller, the world woke up to behold a phenomenon. Moving with the times, the handsome pop star had replaced his afro hairdo with Jerry curls which totally agreed well with him. His fashion had also moved several steps higher. There was the red leather jacket, white socks, and black loafers. It was a unprecedented look. But what would remain with his fans more was the wonderful white rhinestone-studded glove which became his signature fashion statement of all time.
By the time he came out with â€œWe are the Worldâ€, he looked outstanding from head to toe decked in his military jacket embellished with black and gold sequins. There was also the gloves, black loafer and white socks which peeped from his black trousers that never truly reached down to his ankle. He completed this look with his aviator dark glasses.
Although Jim Moor, creative director of GQ magazine says that the â€œ white socks and black loafers were bit of an homage to James Deanâ€ even at that time, not many men or even stars would get away with wearing immaculate white socks. Michael Jackson pulled it off effortlessly because it was him! For this reason, many designers made reference to him.
Michael was a huge fan of accessories. As years progressed, his ornamental military jackets and armbands became more elaborately tailored than the next, with gold braiding, brass button, sequins, epaulets, etc. There was even a touch of the futuristic.
He loved the fedora which was also like a trade mark along with his gloves which first appeared during his performance of Billie Jean in 1983. One cannot forget the V neck t shirt in a hurry which he eventually stripped down to when on stage.
In the spirit of a true fashionista, he was not afraid to try new things.Â He was a shopper. In the 90s, he was reported to have spent an average of $35 million a year and blew through $150, 000 at Harrods in 30 minutes!
He was a showman to the core and one that had presence. He glittered and shone like the star that he was. Jewellery was part of his ensemble. He simply blinged. Everywhere he went, he made heads turn.
By now too, his problems had begun to get at him. He succumbed to racial prejudices and subscribed to cosmetic surgery that saw him do a nose job. He also changed the colour of his skin. His curly hair which is a natural gift to every African, gave way to straightened hair after his accident while doing the Pepsi advert. His chiselled nose totally transformed him. His once serene and cherubic face caved in. He became a shadow of himself.
Like the frail mortal that he was, he was not above mistakes. Michael Jackson goofed with his dressing when he wore a blazer over a pyjamas trouser to the courtroom where he was acquitted of charges of sexual abuse. But what do you expect from a man who was troubled on many sides?
The 2009 concert scheduled for Londonâ€™s O2 Arena would have been a good avenue for Jackson to relaunch himself and show the world what his style would have been in his 50â€™s. Now, we would never know as the once style icon has gone to join his forebears. However, his sense of style continue to captured the fancy of big designers this past season. Givenchyâ€™s gold-studded jackets and Louis Vuitton sequined gloves were big hits.
It is reported that for the London show that will never be now, Swarovski had signed on to sparkle the costumes for Jacksonâ€™s comeback tour that would have kicked off this July. Now we would never know. All that is left behind is a chian of memories of a star in shining armour.