Glam Rock


David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust

Glam rock emerged from the art rock scene of the late 1960s. It glorified decadence and superficiality, in rejection of the more revolutionary tone of late ‘60s rock. Glam rock truly can be seen as both a music subgenre and a fashion movement. It had influences from pre-WWII cabaret, science fiction, and mythology. The sound of glam rock could vary, but it often featured electronic guitar riffs and stomping rhythms. Glam rock performers typically wore outrageous costumes, platform shoes, over the top makeup and hairstyles and lots of glitter. One of the most famous glam rock artists was David Bowie. In late 1971, Bowie developed his Ziggy Stardust persona. Kansai Yamamoto designed seven costumes for Ziggy’s 1973 U.K. tour.

Glam rock, in particular its androgyny, would influence later music movements such as punk and grunge. Its fashion for tight spandex clothing and bright colors would be seen in the wardrobes of bands such as Van Halen and Guns N Roses in the 1980s. Glam rock, as a popular music movement only lasted from 1971-1975.

Pictured in the exhibit are a pair of silver leather platform boots with appliqued flame design and multi-colored studs, 1975-1982. Beside the boots is an ensemble consisting of a yellow asymmetrical jacket by Karl Lagerfeld and leggings featuring a graphic print of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean by Versace, 1990-1995. The leggings reflect the influence of glam rock in the bright, graphic print and the tight-fitting Spandex leggings themselves.