Bowie’s Back! New V&A Exhibition

Photo courtesy of the V&A

David Bowie is to be the subject of a brand new exhibition at the V&A Museum in 2013.

Museums were something of a mixed bag when I was growing up. Memories of seeing the T Rex skeleton and huge Blue Whale model in The Natural History Museum are etched in my brain. Pressing buttons on the endless procession of engines and ships in the science museum was a thrill akin to gawping skyward through the rain at the Red Arrows on a wet Bank Holiday weekend or staring at cases in London Zoo’s Reptile House trying to work out if there was anything there or not.

The Victoria and Albert museum (or V&A) didn’t often feature in these trips. It featured historical artefacts from around the world – and as such had fewer highlights for eight year old thrill seekers than the aforementioned museums. All this is about to change however with an exhibition of historical artefacts from David Bowie’s archive. Exciting stuff indeed.

Photo courtesy of the V&A

The exhibition will run from 23rd March to 28th July 2013 and The V&A’s curators have selected more than 300 objects that will be brought together for the very first time. They include handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs, Bowie’s own instruments and album artwork. After it was misreported that Bowie was uncomfortable at not being personally involved in the project, Bowie commented “A close friend tells me that I am neither ‘devastated’, ‘heartbroken’ nor ‘uncontrollably furious’”…

I have bought my ticket, and I’ll tell you about it (and the accompanying book) next year.

In the meantime, if you are unable to contain your excitement, there is an alternative. The Bowie Paper Doll Book.

Nowadays little girls seem to all own a dozen Barbie dolls each with a hundred different outfits such as Drunk-at-3am-outside-the-kebab-shop Barbie, Footballers Wife Barbie and teenage delinquent Barbie*. But it wasn’t like that growing up in the seventies. Back then there were regular financial crises in countries across the world, high unemployment and seemingly no hope that things would get better.

But things were also different to how they are now. Barbie dolls cost a week’s wages (according to my Dad when explaining to my unconvinced sister when telling her she would have to make do with the cheaper British version called Cindy). So the way girls found an outlet for their inbuilt need to dress dolls in pretty clothes was using books full of paper cut out costumes that could be coloured in and pinned on mannequins made of card.

All very dull for those of us who preferred Subbuteo, Evil Kneivel Stunt Motorcycles and Stretch Armstrong. So thank goodness for I Love Mel who has produced her own line of Pop Star Dressing Up Dolls which you can buy at Rough Trade or online here:

Alongside Adele and Lady Gaga is a David Bowie / Ziggy Stardust doll with which I spent an enjoyable afternoon playing with alongside my daughter. Perhaps appropriately my four year old looked more interested in sniffing the pritt-stick glue whilst I helped cut out the costumes, but when I told her the doll’s name was David, she seemed quite taken with him.

Here’s one I prepared earlier…

She enjoyed dressing him in the classic Kansai Yamamoto outfit and the one-legged Ziggy leotard, neither of which particularly fazed her. I thought about adding Jareth The Goblin King from Labyrinth or perhaps a “last concert in Norway” outfit complete with (detachable) lolly, but thought better of it…

David Bowie Is runs at the V&A from 23rd March until 28th July 2013 in partnership with Gucci and Sennheiser Sound Experience.

* For legal reasons I should point out that none of these Barbie outfits are commercially available. Yet.

Record #105 – David Bowie – Fashion






8 responses to “Bowie’s Back! New V&A Exhibition”

  1. bashfulbadger Avatar

    Love it. We used to get a comic called Bunty that had a paper cutout doll on the backpage. Very difficult to dress that with some blunt paper scissors and no glue (parents quite parimonious). Had to balance the bits of each outfit on top of the figure (not that rewarding when someone breathing out could destroy your creation). But you’ve got the comic, I can hear my Dad say, what more do you want? And we had the cutprice Barbies. But it was Sindy with an S. She always looked much classier than Barbie, like she could be distantly related to the royal family or at least Christine Keeler.


    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      Sindy with an “S”. Of course you’re right. Love the idea that she looked like royalty – or Christine Keeler. Well you would say that wouldn’t you…


      1. bashfulbadger Avatar

        Now Mandy Rice Davies was a bit of a Barbie bimbo, at least in the film. Whereas Sindy was definitely a bit of posh tottie.


  2. bashfulbadger Avatar

    Sorry, that should have been parsimonious.


  3. mskatykins Avatar

    Great post, I love Bowie SO much! 🙂 This was one of my favourite lines, really made me laugh out loud! 🙂 Drunk-at-3am-outside-the-kebab-shop Barbie,


    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      Thanks. I’m waiting to get sued by Mattel.


      1. mskatykins Avatar

        Wow, what a thought!!!


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