With his gender-bending style and haunting, eerie sound, David Bowie pushed the envelope in every possible way, including in the styles he wore and the fashionable crowd with whom he ran. His new wave / rock hit “Fashion,” the second single released from his 1980 album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) was no exception. In it he sings “Fashion! Turn to the left. Fashion! Turn to the right. Ooooh, fashion! We are the goon squad and we’re coming to town.” Fans and critics alike speculated about the meaning of his lyrics. Though some conspiracy theorists assumed that the reference to the “goon squad” was a thinly veiled allusion to fascism, Bowie said he was trying to “move on a little from that Ray Davies concept of fashion, to suggest more of a gritted teeth determination and an unsureness about why one’s doing it.”
“Fashion” was later featured in the zeitgeist hit movie Clueless, the thumping bass playing while Cher (Alicia Silverstone) uses a before-its-time computer program to select her outfit. Even now that such acomputer program exists to help us pick our style du jour, we’re all slaves to fashion just a bit, aren’t we?