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Currently on show at the Getty Images Gallery located in Westfield Stratford City is an exhibition of clothes made by legendary costume designers Dennis Tompkins and Michael Bush for Michael Jackson.
The design duo created stage wear for the King of Pop from the ‘70s right up to the planned ensembles for his This Is Itshows. Despite each item being placed behind a thick wall of glass, you can still get close enough to the iconic items on show to see signs of life, and wear and tear; the stage variations of Jackson’s most iconic jackets, having been used in countless performances, are stained with makeup around the collars and have broken zips. Also on display are a used pair of Jackson’s loafers which show how his footwear was purposely scuffed and scratched on the soles, in a similar ritual to that of a ballet dancer breaking in their shoes.
A number of other accessories that became synonymous with Michael Jackson and his showmanship displayed here include a single, glittering glove covered in crystals that took Michael Bush 72 hours to complete, a fedora and the hat mould that made it, plus some mirrored aviator sunglasses.
Particular highlights of this exhibition are items signed by Michael Jackson himself with his dazzlingly elaborate autograph, such as pillow cases with scribbled messages to his fans that he would throw from hotel windows to the waiting crowds that followed him wherever he went, a plain glove that functioned as an invitation to a party at New York’s Natural History Museum in 1984 to celebrate Thriller being the biggest selling album of all time, and a couple of rare personalised jackets embellished with an image of Peter Pan and another bearing an anti-press appliqué.
The exhibition coincides with the release of Michael Bush’s book The King of Style: Dressing Michael Jackson and is one of many stops these artefacts will visit on a worldwide tour before eventually being auctioned off for charity by Julien’s Auctions, California, in December.
The Collection of Tompkins & Bush: Michael Jackson Wardrobe will run until Saturday 17th November.
The King of Style: Dressing Michael Jackson will be published by Insight Editions on 1st November.
Words and images: Kate Allen
Written for IDOL