Iggy Pop: The importance of image

James Hill /
Aug 31, 2017 / Style

Iggy Pop’s unique style and customary verve seem to have stood the test of time.

Not only does he strike a commanding figure at 70-years-old, but at 40, Lust For Life – his greatest work – reminds us all of the classic nature of Iggy. His sun-bleached, flaxen hair still burns as bright as back then; the impressive and sinewy physique resembles varnished teak; the low-slung skinny trousers – the apotheosis of proto-punk fashion. Nonetheless, the element which is still in full force some 40 years since Lust For Life showcased the genuine authenticity of the man himself. His look and – dare we say it – his refreshing lack of constant reinvention, position him firmly in the upper echelons of the music hall of fame.

As recognisable as the rings and bandanas of Keith Richards or the colourful sunglasses of Elton john, Iggy Pop is a stalwart of the sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle. Pop’s notion of the importance of image in music is that it can convey the projection of the artist to the viewer without ever having heard a song on lust for life or any other of the stooges’ records. Significantly, the look of Iggy pop can reach out and touch the primal desire for self-expression that lies at the heart of every musician or music fan. In baring his torso so regularly and with such undimmed physical prowess, he projects the image of a man who is completely comfortable with his own skin.

Arguably, this was helped considerably by the influence of one of his greatest collaborators, David Bowie. Bowie is renowned for his chameleon like nature and the shifting looks of the Bromley raised musician is the stuff of musical legend and canon. Yet, in 1977, the creation of the album, Lust For Life, was the product of Bowie’s inexorable musical intelligence; al of the album standouts were written and produced by Bowie. Stylistically, what connected with Pop was the simple idea that Bowie helped to impress upon him: be true to your aesthetic, be true to the image you want to create.

To this day, people still view Iggy pop as a shaman-like, witch-doctor figure with a penchant for wild antics. Yes, to a certain extent he still represents the lost age of punk, of the late ’70s Berlin scene and of course, the wiry aesthete of an undimmed lust for life. However, far from the hard-core drug abuse of his wayward youth, Iggy has embraced a more moderate and sober daily existence. Yet, overall, the image created in lust for life has never lost its grubby sheen. The skinny black denim clad hips of Pop when performing with the likes of Josh Homme fit simultaneously fit in well with the tales of the early ’90s romps with Johnny Depp. Consequently, in the world of fashion, Pop still casts an enviable shadow over every wannabe rock and roll frontman.

Ultimately, the essence of the look created in 1977’s Lust for Life is one of an aging punk, a man committed to the new and modern, yet would not look out of place in a Ramones tribute band. The brilliance of Pop’s aesthetic is that he genuinely enjoys looking like he does. For a man of 70, he is still in superb physical condition. Whilst the drugs and drink may have calcified his body, his clothes and stage attire still represent the culmination of rock and roll. The sheer rebellious nature of self-expression that Lust For Life, 40 years after its release, still manages to convey with such daring and devilish swagger.

Words by James Hill

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