David Bowie said that he considers this song to be a sequel to The Kinks' 1966 send-up of the fashion scene, "Dedicated Follower Of Fashion
." Bowie blasts the shallow nature of the fashion industry, but at the same time, expresses a morbid curiosity in it all: "When I first started going to discos in New York in the early '70s, there was a very high powered enthusiasm and the scene had a natural course about it. It seems now to be replaced by an insidious grim determination to be fashionable, as though it's actually a vocation. There's some kind of strange aura about it."
This song draws an implicit analogy between fashion and fascism. Goon squads – referenced in the lyric, "We are the goon squad and we're coming to town" - are groups of thugs who are hired to perform violent acts on their boss' behalf. In the context of this song, it is most likely that Bowie is light-heartedly comparing goon squads to the New Romantics – a late '70s subculture, who were known for their meticulously flamboyant fashion sense. Moreover, the lyric, "Turn to the left, turn to the right," is not only referring to the mechanical movements of fashion models, but also to the military instruction. In 1974, Bowie caused controversy after he made some pro-Fascist comments, including calling Hitler "one of the first rock stars." Bowie later blamed his wacky comments on the huge amount of drugs that he was consuming at the time.
No doubt about it - Bowie is a fashion icon. Ever since he rose to prominence in the late '60s, the singer has been setting trends, if not redefining style as we know it. Bowie was famous for his chameleonic personas, including (but certainly not limited to) the androgynous Ziggy Stardust and the dapper Thin White Duke. His style innovations continue to influence designers, musicians and fashionistas to this day. In 1992, Bowie secured his place in the fashion industry when he married the Somalian supermodel, Iman. In 2004, the couple featured in an advertising campaign for designer, Tommy Hilfiger's spring collection. Bowie and Iman have one child together - Alexandria Zahra Jones, born August 15, 2000.
The "Fashion" music video was directed by David Mallet, who had previously directed Bowie's landmark video for "Ashes To Ashes
." The promotional clip for "Fashion" was filmed in the New York nightclub and music venue, Hurrah - where, in 1978, Sid Vicious got into a bloody brawl with Patti Smith's brother, Todd Smith, landing Vicious a two month jail term. The video features Bowie performing before a vacant crowd, who eventually start to imitate the singer's corny dance moves. John Lennon's former girlfriend, May Pang, and MTV
VJ, Alan Hunter, both cameo in this music video.
According to the producer, Tony Visconti, this song's bass line and melody took inspiration from Bowie's 1975 Soul hit, "Golden Years
King Crimson virtuoso Robert Fripp played guitar on this track. Fripp also played lead guitar on Bowie's 1977 song, "Heroes
Bowie had previously used that famous "beep beep" hook in a little-known song that he wrote in 1970 called "Rupert the Riley."
This single reached #5 in the UK and #70 in the US. It was Bowie's first song to chart in America in three years (his last hit was "Sound And Vision
," which peaked at #69 in 1977).
In 1997, Bowie performed this song during his 50th birthday bash at Madison Square Garden with The Pixies' front man, Frank Black.
Several British supermodels, including Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Georgia Jagger, strutted down a catwalk to this song during the London 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony. Organizers did try to convince Bowie to perform live, but the reclusive singer unsurprisingly turned down the offer. The last time Bowie played live was in 2006 and many fans suspect that he will never tour again.
This was the final song to be completed during the sessions for Bowie's fourteenth studio album, Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). This album followed on from Bowie's "Berlin Trilogy" - three albums (Low, Heroes and Lodger) envisioned in Germany in collaboration with the producer, Brian Eno, between 1976 and 1979. Though critically applauded, the experimental nature of these albums meant they commercially unsuccessful. Thus, with Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), Bowie consciously returned to making more radio-friendly music.
This was used in the beginning of the 1995 movie Clueless as Cher (Alicia Silverstone) uses a computer program to assemble the perfect outfit for school.