At the 2012 “VH1 Divas” concert, pop star Ciara performed her current single “Got Me Good”, but not before opening with some MJ choreography backed with the “Billie Jean” opening riff. She also paid homage with her ensemble; wearing a tight white tee, black leather jeans, a stack of studded belts, and buckled armbands, Ciara’s was a sexy, updated take on Michael’s “Dirty Diana” look.
Got this little guy as a Hanuakkah present from my little nieces who clearly have impeccable taste. You can find them here: Big Bad Toy Store.
One of my favorite MJ videos is 1995′s “Scream”. With its hyper-futuristic look and unique (and spendy) special effects, it was as influential to 90′s-era music videos as “Thriller” was to the 80′s. I was so happy when my publisher picked a shot from the clip for my book cover! So when I saw one of Michael’s “Scream” ensembles come up for auction this past week in Julien’s Collection of Tompkins and Bush auction, I was able to get a really good look at it in the catalog. So cool, right? I’ve always dug that moon crater sweater.
It sold for $156,000! But then I remembered that not all that long ago (June 2011), the same pointy pullover showed up in another Julien’s auction, Music Icons, and sold for $72,000.
How is this possible?
The top was actually created by Dexter Wong, an avant-garde artist/ fashion designer hailing from the prestigious Central Saint Martins school in London. Here it is in white (which I’m totally loving), in a photo from Wong’s website.
So obviously, the top was not custom-made for Michael, it was probably picked up at some high-end boutique in Los Angeles or London. But it’s all good, not all video/ TV/ film costumes are one-of-a-kind, many are just pieces pulled from stores and then tailored/ customized to fit whomever will be wearing it. But back to the catalog.
According to caption in the 2012 auction book, this particular “Scream” costume was marked on the inside:
“’2/2′…indicating that two identical costumes were created for Michael Jackson’s use during the ‘Scream’ video.”
So, that clears it up, right? There were two of them, one was sold in 2011 and the other in 2012. But wait just a second. If that was the case, wouldn’t the top sold last year be marked “1/2″? Instead, there is no such inscription. Also, the peaks on this one are not quite as sharp and pointy as the one Michael is pictured actually wearing.
So all of this just begs the question, did Julien’s (unknowingly) sell a shirt that Michael Jackson never wore? Clearly, there were more than just two made, so it’s possible. I am not sure how these auction houses prove beyond a reasonable doubt the attribution of a piece that goes under the hammer but it does make you think twice about bidding so much money on something that is being heralded as real. Not that I have $72,000 to drop on anything, but you catch my drift. Caveat emptor, to the nth.
It’s pretty common knowledge that the look of the “Smooth Criminal” video was heavily influenced by Fred Astaire and his 1953 film, The Band Wagon, in particular, a musical segmnt called “Girl Hunt Ballet”. Just check out side-by-side images of MJ and Astaire:
But what is not well-known is that this same song-and-dance sequence inspired some of the imagery from “Billie Jean”. You can see the clues everywhere, if you know where to look.
The shady trench-coated bad dude:
The animal skin “rag”:
The climb up the fire-escape:
In “Girl Hunt”, the very last line Astaire utters — “She was bad, she was dangerous” — not only echoes the titles of Michael two albums that follow Thriller, but is a line MJ himself co-opted for his “Dangerous” track. So I think it’s fairly safe to say that Band Wagon was likely Michael’s favorite of all Fred Astaire’s films.
Check out this image. From a fashion editorial shot by Chek Wu published in Twelv magazine, it features model Rianne ten Haken wearing a red and black leather bustier/blazer-combo that is very “Thriller”-esque.
The jacket, chosen by stylist Hissa Igarashi, is a vintage piece by designer Thierry Mugler. Mugler has seen a bit of a fashion revival over the past couple of years, with both Beyoncé and Lady Gaga sporting his old and new designs in their videos and on stage. Who knew back in the day he was so enchanted with the King of Pop?
To see more of Mugler’s work, watch this video for George Michael’s 1992 hit song, “Too Funky”. All the pieces were the work of Mugler and you’ll get to see a young Tyra Banks twirling on the runway.