Or did fashion influence him?
A fashion subversive, the legendary Freddie Mercury marked an era, not only with his music but also with his flamboyant style in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Constantly reinventing himself through fashion, from satin flowing numbers and sequinned jumpsuits to the iconic white tank top and tight jeans worn with studded armband and belt at the Live Aid concert, Mercury was one of the greatest showmen ever. His opulent style was sometimes questionable, but definitely unforgettable and pure glam rock’n’roll!
To understand Freddy Mercury’s fashion style, we must know a bit of his story. He arrived as a teenager from Zanzibar in the London of the lysergic ’70s, when the counter-culture revolution and fashion were breaking barriers and rules. He went on to study Graphic Design at the Ealing College of Art together with Ronnie Wood, of the Rolling Stones, and Pete Townsend, of The Who, now can you imagine the hip ambience in that college?
The frontman of Queen worked at London's trendy Kensington Market on a clothes stall with his girlfriend Mary, who was his real “love of my life” and remained close to him until his last days. When they met, Mary was a salesgirl at Biba, the fashion temple of the ’70s, so both had access to the hippest clothes of that time. The fashionable girlfriend was his muse and a significant influence in his sartorial style.
The androgynous look was still crawling in the artsy circles back then, but Freddie Mercury wore with the same ease and self-confidence women’s clothes and makeup as well as men’s attire, revolutionising the way men dressed. Colourful jackets, fancy hats and heels migrated to men’s wardrobes and became mainstream.
Legend has it that his now legendary batwing outfit was created by Zandra Rhodes when she was working on a wedding dress. Mercury was so fascinated by the white costume with pleats that the British designer cut it in half and gave it to him. By the way, Rhodes, who used to design cool clothes for women, made several theatrical outfits for the lead singer of Queen.
The fashion-forward rock-star changed his style in the ’80s, influenced by New York’s gay club scene. He grew a moustache, cut his hair short and brought the S&M leather jackets and pants, and studded belts and caps from the underground clubs to mainstream fashion.
The singer’s fashion sense was as epic as thunderbolt and lightning, and Mercury was at the same time influenced by his surroundings and a huge influence in fashion, then and now. “We’re not really like anyone else. If anything, we have more in common with Liza Minnelli than Led Zeppelin”, said once Freddie, and he added “We’re more in the showbiz tradition than the rock’n’roll tradition”, this is why what we saw on stage was more than just a concert, it was a fashion statement.
Photo collages by Notorious-mag