Photography for the cover of the album Alladin Sane, 1973. Photography by Brian Duffy. Copyright Archives and The David Bowie Archive.

After a phenomenal success in London in spring, 2013, first large-scale retrospective “ David Bowie is ” designed by Victoria and Albert Museum settles down in the Philharmonie de Paris from March 3rd till May 31st, 2015. The rich and fascinating route of a unique and unclassifiable musical icon.


More than 45 years that David Bowie monopolizes the charts and five decades when he dedicates his life to music. Introduced to this art by his older brother Terry Burns (in whom he will pay tribute through his character Aladdin Sane), he learns to play the saxophone from the age of 13 years. At the age of 16, he leaves the school. After a brief career in an advertising agency, he decides to become professional musician one year later. In July 1969, his song Space Oddity is in the top 5 of the sales of records in England. His career is launched. Will follow an impressive discography – with more than 33 albums and numerous compilations – and by plenty of successes: Sound And Vision, Ashes to Ashes, Under Pressure, Let’s Dance, China Girl, Dancing in the Street… It is also at this moment that David adopts his various roles of enigmatic characters, his avatars. Metamorphosing constantly, it will be alternately Major Tom (this astronaut lost in space), Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Halloween Jack, the Thin White Duke, detective Nathan Adler and the Minotaur.


Stage Boots of Alladin Sane Tour, 1973. Courtesy of the David Bowie Archive. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum.


This retrospective exhibits more than 300 objects among which handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photos, movies, video clips, stage sets, musical instruments, illustrations of his albums helping comprehension of the creative process and exceptional path of this unique and even unclassifiable artist. Pioneer of the pop music and although fascinated by the fate and the cut-up which he usually practices in the writing of his texts, David Bowie exactly leaves no room at random in his artistic approach. Always checking personally his whole work of the music in the albums, from scenography of his shows to merchandising, David Bowie, always in search of new ideas, owes his success not only to his immense talent but also to his refusal to comply with expectations and with requirements of record companies. He leaves the good old recipes to invest the first places of charts to the other stars of the music. David Bowie does not remain confined in a musical style but is ceaselessly renewed, passing from rock glam to funk, or from soul music to disco. Always a step ahead on his congeners.

David Bowie, 1973. Photographie_ de Masayoshi Sukita - © Sukita The David Bowie Archive

David Bowie, 1973. Photography by Masayoshi Sukita. Copyright Sukita The David Bowie Archive.


Make Up For Ever participates in this key event through several actions. At first by mobilizing his trainees of the Academy on the concert-performance Wiebo by Philippe Découflé, where future Make-up artists will make up artists on stage. In addition, every Wednesday from 4pm to 6 pm there are workshops suggesting to the visitors to wear a “reference to the star” make-up. There is also, a competition named #DavidBowieIsMe that suggests to post photos made up in Bowie on dedicated Twitter and Instagram, and to try to win Bowie albums, “Make Up For Ever” makeup cases or a camera.


Philharmonie de Paris, 221, avenue Jean-Jaurès, 75019 Paris. Phone : 01 44 84 44 84. Space of temporary exhibition (Philharmonie 1), opening hours: on Tuesday to Thursday 12 am to 8 pm and during the school spring holidays (from April 21st to May 3rd) 10 am to 8 pm; on Friday and Saturday 10 am to 10 pm; on Sunday 10 am to 8 pm. Last access to the space of temporary exhibition 1 hour before the closing time. The space of temporary exhibition is closed every Monday. Subway station Porte de Pantin (line 5). Tramway Porte de Pantin (line 3b) RER station Pantin (line E).