Key to the sartorial look was Freddie Burretti, a young fashion designer who was born Frederick Burrett. David and Angie Bowie befriended Burretti at Yours Or Mine, a gay nightclub beneath the Sombrero restaurant in London.
The two men became occasional lovers, and Burretti – using the stage name Rudi Valentino – became the nominal frontman of Bowie’s proto-Ziggy group Arnold Corns. Bowie hoped he could steer the designer to stardom, providing him with songs and recordings and pushing him as “the next Mick Jagger”.
David spotted him at the Sombrero. He was wearing WHITE Spandex hotpants with a navy blue sailors trim and a sailor shirt with short sleeves out of the same white spandex edged in navy on the collar and sleeves. He looked totally Scandinavian with high cheek bones and lots of blond hair, but he was tall and had big hands and feet speaking of his artistry and physical stamina. Every night he made new clothes to wear. He was so brilliant. He worked for a Greek tailor in the King’s Road and he had a machine at home so he did work there too. Once we met and got to know each other I brought him down to live at Haddon Hall because it was easier for him to have everyone available for fittings etc. Before they went off on tour he came for the weekend and stayed for a couple of months and then Freddie and Danyella came with us to New York. Did he design for others? No, not really. Maybe a few things. He was just kept so busy by yours truly that it remained exclusive.
Many of the early Ziggy Stardust costumes were Burretti’s creations, and he remained working with Bowie until 1974, when a financial disagreement spelt the end of their partnership.
Around late January 1972, the very first series of outfits for Ziggy and company were made by Freddie and anyone else in Haddon Hall who could reasonably handle a needle and thread. This would usually be our babysitter Sue who lived downstairs in the basement flat with her husband Tony. Although full of good intentions, no one else would last more than about twenty minutes before the pure hard graft of threading and stitching wore down all enthusiasm for the job.
I had just seen A Clockwork Orange earlier in the month and had been galvanized not only by Kubrick’s startling visualisation of Burgess’s novel but also his take on functional-chic youth outfits. To lessen the image of violence I decided we should go for extremely colourful and exotic materials in place of the Droog white cotton. I had found a quite lovely piece of faux-deco material in a Cypriot street market a year before and now claimed that for my own. For the band, Freddie chose pastel velveteen cord: one musician, one colour. Pink, baby blue and primrose yellow, if I remember correctly. To reflect the Droogish codpiece, Freddie utilised the highly original Stirling Cooper jeans front panel, (ironically created by brilliant and innovative Cooper designer Anthony Price, who would later become one of Freddie’s first fans). As for footwear, I co-opted the stylish wrestling boot, calf high, flatfooted and laced to the top, again in various hues of shiny vinyl. These were ordered and made by Russell and Bromley, a bootshop to the north of either Bromley or Beckenham Library. The red and black vinyl platform boot wouldn’t be seen for a month or two, as the Kansai show had not yet hit the rags. They in turn were made by a bootmaker, Stan ‘Dusty’ Miller by name, of Greenway and Sons, who lived and worked in Penge, in South London. Happily, I met his son, who is now working as a concierge, a couple of years ago in London.
Moonage Daydream: The Life and Times of Ziggy Stardust
On 13 January 1972, Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange opened in London. David Bowie saw it shortly afterwards at the ABC Cinema in Catford, with Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder and Mick Woodmansey.
The film’s visual language had a strong effect on Bowie, particularly the gang’s jumpsuits and high patent leather boots. Bowie asked a local shoemaker, Russell & Bromley in Beckenham High Street, to make similar boots for the band. He also bought a similar pair of Kansai Yamamoto-designed leather platform boots for £28 from Boston-151 in Fulham, London.