A stunning image of David Bowie as Pierrot with makeup by Australian artist Richard Sharah.
There are few images in rock and roll as recognizable as David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane look. With his hair quaffed in a red mullet and a lightning bolt slashed across his face, it is hard to conceive how anyone would not be at least somewhat aware of Bowie in this context. Bowie’s constantly changing personae are, of course, some of his crowning achievements but as we all know, even the greatest artists didn’t become great without a little help from their friends. David Bowie had many incredible collaborators. Here are two which had the great honor of using his face as a canvas.
Bowie’s secret weapons in the makeup department during the 70s were Algerian-born Pierre La Roche, and legendary Australian makeup artist Richard Sharah. La Roche is the man responsible for creating Bowie’s iconic lightning bolt, and the far-out gold sphere Bowie sported on his forehead as Ziggy. Sharah gets the credit for bringing the Pierrot look used for the cover of Scary Monsters and the “Ashes to Ashes” video to life. However, both men have made other impactful contributions to the world of makeup. Let’s start with the late Richard Sharah.
Richard Sharah’s unique makeup style helped inspire the looks of the New Romantic movement. Sharah’s working relationship with designer Zandra Rhodes (who dressed Freddie Mercury and Queen during the 1970s) lasted for decades. Sharah was slightly color blind—something his fans and students believed only enhanced his artistic ability. Taking things a step further, Sharah also made his own products, therefore, creating truly singular work for his clients which in addition to Bowie included Visage’s Steve Strange and a makeup icon in his own right, Divine (pictured below).
Divine (Harris Glenn Milstead) in makeup done by Richard Sharah.
Pierre La Roche left his native Algiers and made his way to France while still in his teens, though he wouldn’t stay long. His next move was to England, where he worked for cosmetics giant Elizabeth Arden. While with EA, David Bowie would hire La Roche to do his makeup for his 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars, keeping him around to take care of business for the 1973 live concert film where Bowie retired Ziggy. Here’s more from LaRoche on Bowie’s “perfect” face:
He had the perfect face for makeup, even features, high cheekbones, and a very good mouth.
And boy, the man should know, as he spent the better part of the 1970s working on Bowie’s beloved mug. In 1971, he painted Bowie’s eyelids blue to compliment the famous turquoise suit worn in the “Life on Mars” video. In 1973 for the album Pin Ups, La Roche made both Bowie and supermodel Twiggy look gorgeously futuristic. In 1975 La Roche would work on the influential cult film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where he was given the opportunity to create Dr. Frank N. Furter’s diabolical, sweet transvestite face, famous tattoos, as well as other characters for the film. As history has proven, this and the other images he concocted for RHPS are indelible, as are his other contributions, which strongly influenced the look of glam rock.
Much more make-up, after the jump…