Elton has been all over the news lately — as the subject of the upcoming Rocketman with Taron Egerton, preparing to embark on a final tour, and starring in Gucci’s new capsule collection. The songwriter spoke about this and more with V magazine. . . .
Alexandra Ilyashov How did your new capsule with Gucci come about?
Elton John I’m a huge fan of Alessandro Michele’s amazing work: his bold mix of colour, exuberance, and eclecticism gave fashion a massive kick up the backside. I love its celebration of individuality. That same spirit reminded me of my insane enthusiasm for fashion, particularly in the first 30 years of my career. I spotted a few knowing winks in Alessandro’s collections to some of my past fashion moments. When we finally met, I was bowled over by his kindness and passion for craftsmanship. We became fast friends; we’re both voracious collectors and love mixing antiquity with contemporary. I’ve kept an archive of my stage costumes from the very beginning of my career, and thought it would be fun to open up my little treasure chest with Alessandro and his design team. They took it from there.
AI What memories does the capsule evoke for you?
EJ I’m not a very nostalgic person, and tend to avoid looking back on my life. Opening up my costume archive and seeing how Alessandro reinterpreted key looks for today’s world has unearthed an exhilarating rush of emotions. I can’t believe how sartorially crazy I was, particularly in the ’70s! I was like a big kid in a sweet shop. I couldn’t get enough, and kept trying newer and crazier looks.
AI What’s it like seeing younger generations in ’70s styles you’re known for?
EJ I feel so blessed to have been a songwriter and performer in the ’70s. It was a decade with an unprecedented explosion of creativity in music, fashion, and filmmaking. There was inspiration everywhere, and so much individuality, revolution, positivity, and hope. I find it massively uplifting that today’s generation is drawn to the same spirit in Alessandro’s Gucci collections.
AI How has your own personal style evolved and changed over time?
EJ I think the most important thing is the word “change.” I’ve always tried to evolve and keep moving. For me, the magic really happens when I feel a genuine affiliation with a designer. I felt that way about Saint Laurent in the ’70s, Tommy Nutter in the ’80s, and Gianni Versace in the ’90s. Now, I feel an immense connection with the hurricane spirit blowing through Gucci. In the past few years, I haven’t tended to dress as flamboyantly as I used to, but I’m now inspired by the creativity, quirkiness, and color in the Gucci aesthetic. I’ve never, ever been a minimalist or a beige kind of guy.
AI How would you describe your rapport with Bob Mackie?
EJ Bob has said that his approach to dressing me for stage was to “treat me like a male showgirl,” and that’s exactly what we did! Together, we had so many ideas. He couldn’t make the clothes fast enough. Bob made some fabulous outfits for me—feathers, sequins, glitter—totally outrageous one-offs. I look at them now and they make me howl with laughter. We had so much fun!
AI How did you cross paths with Tommy Roberts?
EJ Tommy had a shop on Kensington Church Street in London that was like a beacon of hope for me. In the ’60s, I was trapped inside the persona of Reggie Dwight. The fierce originality of his designs gave me the opportunity to reinvent and relaunch myself as Elton John in the ’70s.
AI Tell us about working with designer Annie Reavey.
EJ Annie was married to the brother of my mentor, Steve Brown. She designed things I’d never seen before, intricately made outfits with lots of DayGlo covers that captured my spirit and my sense of humour. She was an obvious successor to what Tommy Roberts had made for me at Mr Freedom.
AI Talk us through your indispensable fashion signatures circa the 1970s.
EJ I think the one item I’m most associated with is outrageous eyewear. I’m proud of the part I played in moving eyewear from function to fashion. My eyes needed the functionality, but “blowing up” what could be done with frames and lenses gave me an exciting new way of expressing myself. They also allowed me to cover up the extreme shyness I needed to hide as a performer.
The Gucci-Elton John capsule collection is out now, available at select Gucci stores.