We were so busy pouring over traditional red carpet gowns at last night’s Baftas that one of the best looks almost slipped through the net. Sandy Powell, the British, Oscar-winning costume designer, turned heads in what she called “a little homage” to the late, great, David Bowie. Powell, who was nominated for the costumes in Carol, told The Telegraph that she had was inspired by Freddie Burretti, a designer and tailor who created the turquoise suit which Bowie wears in the video for the 1971 hit Life on Mars.
Burretti was a close friend of Bowie’s at the time, and created many of the singer’s Ziggy Stardust costumes. He was just 19 when he made the Life on Mars suit. “I’ve always like that suit, and I’d love to have one, one day” Powell told us.
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She designed the suit herself and had it made by a friend at east London atelier Whitechapel Workhouse. The shirt and tie were also custom-made especially for the event; London shirt specialist Dometakis provided the shirt, while Angels The Costumiers, one of the film industry’s leading costume suppliers, created Powell’s tie. Incidentally, Angels were honoured at the ceremony last night with a Bafta for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema. She completed the look with Stella McCartney’s Britt derby shoes in silver.
Powell’s sartorial statement wasn’t directly linked to the singer's recent passing. “David Bowie was a big influence on my life and my work,” she says. “It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time because it’s my favourite Bowie outfit. I did decide a while ago, and the Baftas provided the right opportunity to go ahead.”
The similarities between the two are striking, not least because Powell’s signature red hair is almost exactly like Bowie’s in the hit music video. “It wasn’t meant to be a replica” she explained. “It was meant to be my version – a little homage.”
The look garnered lots of compliments at the British film event of the year, with guests who understood the Bowie reference “depending on their age”. Powell told us that the look made a difference from wearing a gown, which she didn’t want to do. It certainly did.
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