Last May I was asked by BBC History Magazine to nominate who I considered to be the best dressed person in history. Last week the public vote was counted and the winner got 48.5% of the vote, 4 times the amount of vote as second place. My nomination had been pretty obvious to me. This wasn’t something I had to rack my brains about; there is one that, for me, has always stood head and shoulders above anyone else. I can track my decision back to 1973, I was 12 and I went to see David Bowie at King George’s Hall in Blackburn. I can picture every bit of it to this day. He was there in all of his splendour, in his make-up, the changes of outfits, and I remember seeing the next day a combination of things that really turned me on to style and music culture in a big way. One was that he was banned from Blackburn for wearing little apart from a sumo wrestlers nappy type thing. I thought “Great! That’s how it should be done; I want to be banned from Blackburn as well!” I went out and bought the Aladdin Sane album, got a feather cut, stopped short of buying a giant nappy, but bought a big pair of yellow wide legged Bowie trousers – and that was the start of me buying records, going clubbing and it introduced me to the most stimulating and enjoyable things in my life being fashion, music, youth culture, dancing, socialising. It allowed me to enjoy a career in a sector, the Creative Industries, that is vital to Britain’s economy and which we lead the world in. Times my story by tens of thousands of people who held hands with David Bowie through his inquisitive journey through skiffle, mod, psychedelia, glam rock, funk, punk new romantic via avante garde film directors, exotic Japanese designers, comic books, art and design.
One of my favourite haunts as a teenager was a nightclub called Pips in Manchester, with its myriad of club rooms within a club. We would wander from the funk and soul room, to the punk room, and onto the Roxy and Bowie room. Bowie was with us in spirit. It is this love of opportunity, and the stimulating breadth of creativity music and fashion that youth culture has bequeathed us that influenced me to start our wonderfully successful Vintage Festival brand and like Pips, the many nightclubs that form part of every Vintage event are informed by the voyage of discovery that Bowie helped us all take.
A Vintage New Years Eve at Southbank Centre takes place on 31 December 2013.