Elton John is not known for his subtlety. And thank God for that! The singer’s flamboyant and glamorous approach to fashion has been a pure delight to watch his impressive six-decade-long career, whether on stage, on the red carpet or simply at the grocery store. In a new video, the singer sat down with vogue to revisit some of his best ensembles over the years, and his life in looks proves that, unsurprisingly, he’s always had a strong flair for dressing up.
John kicks off the video with an outfit he wore in 1968. He embraced maximalism from the start and wore groovy bell bottoms and an animal print hat for one of his very first publicity shots. “I was so young there, and that’s probably all I could afford,” John said. A few years later, in 1972, he also sported an all-denim outfit covered in kitsch patches. “The badges were sewn by members of the group’s wives,” he says. (He was even denied entry to Disneyland because of his outfit, for reasons unknown.) Don’t expect him to revive that particular look: “I absolutely hate denim now,” says John. “I think every piece of denim in the world should be burned. I hate it; I hate it. Cancel that.”
In the decades since, John has only taken this exaggerated fashion sensibility to new heights. Some of his favorite looks of the time were the many Bob Mackie designs he wore. When receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles in 1975, for example, John wore a glitzy suit created by Mackie that was adorned with stars, as well as the names of other celebrities already on the Walk of Fame. Famous. “I couldn’t believe I was getting a star so early in my career,” John says of this milestone achievement.
John also spoke about the importance of wearing bold ensembles on stage and why they are more than just an aesthetic choice. Turns out they help him get into character. “When you put on your costume, you’re ready to play,” he says. “I could never get on stage and look normal.” A prime example of this is back in 1977, when he wore a “giant chicken outfit” on The puppet show, her favorite look of all time. “It was made by Bill Whitten, an amazing designer from LA,” he says of the theatrical look. “It was so fun to wear, and it was so heavy, I used to have feathers in my mouth while I sang!”