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The Line of Beauty: as the V&A prepares to showcase David Bowie's iconography, Matthew Sweet pinpoints his looks and guises, from Aladdin Sane to family man...

From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, January/February 2013

These days, he is a happily retired man, living quietly in New York with his wife and daughter. But for 15 years or so he was a superstar: a top-class singer, songwriter—and curator of his own image.

Davy—or Davie—Jones c.1965
Bowie’s otherworldly credentials are so established that his early years now play like a sci-fi serial about aliens engaged in the slow infiltration of some suburban nowhere. Beckenham, for instance. Did the teenage Pod Person in this picture really fool anyone? The name, for one. David Jones! Too self-consciously ordinary to be plausible, despite the tweaks to “Davy” and “Davie”. Here’s what Professor Quatermass would have said, if they’d given him a column in the NME: Bowie’s years of struggle—the ice-cream commercials, the failed alliances with bands called Riot Squad or the Konrads—were a Martian ploy to lull us into a false sense of security.

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