(personal sidenote: all this referring to Michael in past tense is Really bugging me, soooooooo weird, still doesn’t feel real).
From sequined fedoras to one very special glove, the King of Pop–who died from a sudden cardiac arrest yesterday–was more than a music legend. He was a bona fide style superstar.
1972: As a member of the Jackson 5, Michael was a rising star by the tender age of six. His sartorial wild streak was already showing by age 14, with bold mixed patterns and hair that screamed “look at me.”
1983: Jackson’s “Thriller” video captured 80s excess in all its glory: Expensive effects, seductive dance moves, and a red peak-shouldered motorcycle jacket that spawned a national fashion fever for zipper-laden leather bombers.
1984: One look at Balmain’s intensely popular Spring 2009 collection, and it’s obvious Jackson’s signature look still has serious impact. The glittered Sergeant Pepper-style military coat he wore to the American Music Awards—with date Brooke Shields on his arm—is as relevant now as it was 25 years ago.
1984: No accessory in pop culture history has enjoyed as much well-earned fame as Jackson’s one glove, which made frequent on-stage appearances throughout his career. It was intended to hit auction blocks earlier this year (legal snafus put an end to the sale), and at the time was expected to fetch up to $200,000.
1987: There’s subtlety and then there’s…Michael Jackson’s stage wardrobe from the 80s. His fiercely fetishized look—leather, buckles, an in-your-face attention to his…er, maleness—are also evident in the present-day collections of everyone from Rodarte to Alexander Wang.
1992: Jackson’s flair for the unexpected continued into the 90s, when the King of Pop highlighted his patented crotch-grab with a gold lame thong worn over a pair of tight black pants with—what else?—a broad silhouette hologram jacket and some Rambo-style bling.
1995: Before Jackson came along, the rules for showing off your white socks were hard and fast: Don’t do it. But once the world saw him perform a magical feat known as the moonwalk, his fedora tilted just so, we decided there must have been some kind of magic in that footwear.
2009: Right up to his last days, Jackson was a loyal (and unpredictable) fashion force, picking pieces straight from the women’s runways of fashion insider favorites Givenchy and Balmain. It’s difficult to say who was paying tribute to whom, but the whether Jackson was cause or effect is irrelevant—his inimitable stamp is everywhere in the fashion sphere.