David Bowie is… Simply Stunning at the V&A

This article has been published by Pillow Magazine. Check it out here

DAVID Bowie has once again taken the music world by storm this year and his new exhibition at the V&A, celebrating his impact on the fashion industry, is a triumph.

Pillow Magazine’s features writer Ally Lowe went to see what all the fuss is about.


David Bowie is something of a legend to myself and the younger generation.

I wasn’t brought up with Bowie, and he doesn’t remind me of my ‘coming of age’. There is no use pretending that I’m a child of Bowie’s generation, because I’m quite simply not.

To me David Bowie is quite simply an icon; his name thrown around my household so often that he could be my uncle. His cultural significance goes far and beyond that of a simple rock star.

David Bowie is, which opens on Saturday at the V&A, brings together a mind-blowing collection of items from Bowie’s incredible life and career. From the more obvious and well-known costumes and records, to the scribbled lyrics on old notebooks and cigarette packets, you could easily lose yourself for hours in this stunning journey of boy to eternal icon.

But, David Bowie is is not just an ordinary exhibition. The V&A have outdone themselves, accompanying the gleaming artefacts with an intelligent sound experience. They’re pushing the boundaries: surely anything less would be inappropriate?

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The biggest question in my head was just how many other artists would have enough substance; enough impact and significance, to carry off an exhibition of this magnitude? Not many. For a man who was such an advocate of change, progression and the future, the sheer amount of ‘stuff’ from his past is astounding. Maybe he had the foresight to realise that some day in the future, his scraps of paper would be worth a small fortune. Or maybe, just maybe, he was simply a bit of a hoarder.

Either way, Bowie was nothing if not a self-promoter. An exhibitionist, if you like. The darkened walls unwind a tale of a young man who created one of the most successful and intelligent brands of his generation: himself.

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The exhibition’s final climax- two twenty-foot screens showcasing his most loved performances- hits the highest of notes. Such a crescendo, in fact, that I could hardly believe what I was seeing. As Heroes rang through my earphones, the sheer spectacle of it all brought tears to my eyes. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

In this stunning final scene, Bowie’s music surrounds the slim-cut, metallically adorned mannequins. His music wraps around the elaborate costumes, mystical film scenes and time-defying artefacts, pulling it all together in a kind of other-worldly dream. ‘David Bowie is’ somehow achieves the impossible: making the music the biggest star of the show despite its endless visual bombardment. Must be some pretty decent music then…

He might be a mere mortal human, but David Bowie is, as the gigantic screens show, larger than life.

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David Bowie is not only plays to your senses; it dances with your mind and imagination. The journey from black and white photos of a skinny teenager to a stunning technicolor, multimedia extravaganza reminds us that we can all be heroes. All it takes is the courage to stand out.

David Bowie Is opens on Saturday, and runs until August 11th.

Get your tickets now at vam.ac.uk

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