Blazing lightning bolts and vermilion mullets electrified the downtown underground for the ninth annual BowieBall on Oct. 12. Nightlife impresario and fashion designer Deryck Todd hosted the David Bowie-themed bash at local music and art venue Le Poisson Rouge. The charity event honored the glam rock legend and fashion icon by inviting guests to revel in their unique eccentricities amid glitter and glitz.
Fusing Bowie’s theatrical aesthetic and musical innovation, the lineup of presenters and performers emanated a creative force that quickly captivated the room. What started as a small group of people dancing around the venue’s empty stage evolved into an animated mass of Bowie-inspired characters. Boy Radio’s cover of “Golden Years” was particularly effective in rousing the crowd. Bowie fans of every generation came out to celebrate, basking in the fiery glow of stage lights and sequins that shimmered around the disco ball.
Bowie’s classic hits fueled the crowd’s energy, but it was the artist’s constant reinvention of his personal style that elevated the BowieBall to a cultural extravaganza. Because Bowie adopted a different persona with each new album, guests were able to pay homage to his success by picking and choosing the varied inspirations for their flamboyant costumes and outrageous hairstyles.
Among the Bowie-inspired outfits were glitter platform boots, colorblock blazers and zig-zag print shirts, as well as pleather pants, sculptural skirts and sequined vests. A notable look came from a young woman with an embellished blond mullet and rhinestone-encrusted coat, who was dressed as Bowie’s character Jareth from “Labyrinth.” For those who did not dress for the occasion, a MAC Cosmetics pop-up bar was set up to accommodate glam makeovers.
The fashion icon’s signature looks were also translated to onstage performances. Wearing a spiked interpretation of Bowie’s vermilion mullet on her head, Vangeline France of the Vangeline Theater performed a Japanese Butoh dance to “Quicksand” in the night’s first live set. Her hyper-controlled movements were oddly mesmerizing, transforming the ballad into a modern art piece.
Tony Award-winner Lena Hall from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” presented her own adaptation of Bowie’s style during a powerful performance of “Life on Mars?” Her ensemble — a blue and white pantsuit, heavy eyeshadow, a sequined tie and a fiery red wig — was a tribute to the artist’s image in the track’s music video.
With ongoing enthusiasm throughout the night and stars like Jemima Kirke in attendance, BowieBall’s latest installation proved to be a success. A portion of the event’s proceeds were donated to the God’s Love We Deliver charity, an organization that provides nutritious meals to people with illnesses too severe to let them shop or cook. The tradition is likely to continue in the coming years, encouraging fans of all ages to celebrate their individuality, like Bowie, with a touch of glitter.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014 print edition. Email Cicek Erel at [email protected]