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“Small moments of happiness occurred many times while working with David,” recalls Yacco Takahashi, a Harajuku pioneer and Japan’s first fashion stylist, who first met the artist in 1972 and introduced him to Kansai Yamamoto, the designer responsible for some of his most famous looks.
In 1972 I was in London coordinating a photo shoot with T. Rex for Masayoshi Sukita [Bowie’s longtime unofficial portraitist and lensmen behind the Heroes album cover]. One day, we found a strange poster in the street. It was of David Bowie. I called RCA and they approved Sukita to photograph David. We did a session with him, wearing Kansai Yamamoto’s clothes, after his July 8th show at Royal Festival Hall, which Sukita and I attended. It was the first time seeing him live, and we were really into his world.
I went to New York in 1973 for David’s first performance at Radio City as his stylist. I brought all the clothes from Kansai’s London show for him to wear. David wore traditional Japanese ninja outfit in order to change costumes quickly and I worked as a “Kuroko” (a stagehand in Kabuki theater), wearing a black leotard and pantaloons. To my outfit, I added children’s suspenders with glittered spangles on them, which nobody noticed except of course David. They caught his eye and he said, “How sweet your suspenders are! They are exactly you.” It made me happy that he noticed and said something. On stage, David wore Kansai’s black jumpsuit with the wide legs, and I ran toward him to quickly change his look, and in a blink David was standing there in his colorful knitwear. All the looks were unisex and tailored to fit him.
In April 1977, David came to Tokyo with Iggy Pop. Sukita planned to take portraits of them. The great cover photo of Heroes was actually born that day. On the way to the studio in Harajuku, I chose to take the more colorful backstreets. David took it all in. He said to Iggy, “Look, this area has great atmosphere!” and Iggy agreed. These small, happy moments happened all the time while working with David.
Photos: Masayoshi Sukita
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