Think about Freddie Mercury’s clothes while he’s singing on stage for a moment. What is he wearing in your mind? Chances are he’s rocking a white tanktop with light blue jeans. That’s what he wore at Live Aid ’85. An iconic concert for both the world and Queen! Unfortunately that getup is, hands down, the most sober outfit he ever wore on stage. In Queens career Freddie evolved to a true style icon. From short shorts, via kimonos and military jackets to spandex that barely left anything to the imagination; Freddie pranced around in it at some point in his career.
De jonge jaren
Freddie grew up at a time in which it was hip to rebel against the mainstream fashion. Both he and his girlfrien, Mary Austin, worked at a clothing store. This gave them the perfect vantage point from which they could oversee the fashion world. The androgynous style of clothing was barely trickling into the artistic world or freddie was already strutting around in jeans for women en flower patterned shirts. The confidence with which he wore his outfits blew away any shadow of a doubt about whether or not he had mistakingly wandered into the women’s departement. It was a statement and soon enough it put a revolution in motion. Male fashion lost every sense of direction. Makeup, colourful blouses, tight pants, high heels,… everything was possible and it was all the rage!
Before too long fashion designers were lining up to design for the young fashionista. For instance, his famous ‘batwing outfit’ was designed by Zandra Rhodes. Later on, she’d design way more clothers for Freddie. The legends goes that she was working on a wedding gown. Freddie fell head over heels for this white dress with pleats. The designer decided to cut the dress in half and give it mister Mercury. That’s how a wonderful wedding dress transformed into a legendary Queen outfit.
With his stage look Freddie showed that he was way more of a showbiz and fashion aficionado, than a stereotypical rock star.
De top vijf
It was very hard to put together a top five of Freddie Mercury’s clothes for you. There are so many gems in Freddie’s wardrobe! That’s why I’d like to kick things off with an honourable mention of the ‘Montreal Canadians’ outfit.
The Montreal Canadians
At the legendary Rock Montreal gig in 1981, Freddie walks on stage with barely any clothes at all! No shoes, a very, very short pair of white shorts, no top, just a little red scarf and a cap of the ‘Montreal Canadians’. He thought it’d be a great tribute to the people of Montreal to wear a cap of their beloved hockey team. It was a great success, because the crowd went wild! This cap and the short shorts hardly make for a top five outfit, but for me it was all about the set of balls you need to walk around on stage like that. Not only did he wear it, he was able to convince you that it was ‘the new cool’. I can see Freddie come on with something random like a kimono, he never fails to justify his sometimes very peculiar choices with his incomparable charisma.
5. De Catsuits
You might think, “which unitard”? Allow me to put them all in one category. If there’s one certainty about Freddie Mercury’s clothes, it’s that there wasn’t a lack of catsuits. Often times the costumes had a neckline that travelled way below his navel. The spandex unitards were so tight that, apart from his trademark black chest hair, they barely left anything to the imagination. He wore bodysuits in all different colours and patterns. Shiny silver, checkered black and white or even orange and green. You can’t think of anything crazy enough. The look was inspired by the unitards worn by ballet dancers. Freddie had a huge heart for ballet and the opera. Once you know this, it explains a lot about his wardrobe choices and the music he wrote. It’s one thing to like the style, but something completely different to actually strut around in such a skimpy piece of spandex in front of thousands of people. But there was no lack of confidence in this British hunk.
4. Live Aid '85
As I wrote at the beginning of this article, his Live Aid ’85 getup was possibly the most sober outfit in which we ever got to see Freddie perform. A simpel white tanktop, a light blue pair of jeans and a black pyramid stutted bracelet above his biceps. Because of the importance of this 20 minute concert, this outfit was catapulted straigt to legend status. We couldn’t afford to leave this one out of this list or out of our own live shows.
3. The yellow jacket (Magic '86)
During the Magic tour, Freddie walks on with his white Adidas shoes, white trousers with red and gold side stripes, a white shirt and the coolest yellow jacket I have ever seen. Because of the military look, Freddie comes across even more as the master of his craft. He shines with an authority that is not to be questioned! The white base makes the yellow jacket pop even more! That’s why it such a strong look and the reason why we chose to open the Mother Mercury shows with this look as well.
He had three jackets made in this style by Diana Moseley. A fully white one, a white one with red straps and this yellow jacket. They’re based on the Spanish opera costumes. The yellow jacket with red accents was a wink at the Spanish flag. Is it a coincidence that yellow was also Freddie’s favourite colour? I think not!
2. 39th birthday / Fashion Aid 85
Personally I couldn’t be a bigger fan of the outfit he chose for his 39th birthday party, titled ‘A black and white drag ball’. The outfit was made up of white Adidas shoes (did we ever see Freddie with another pair of kicks?), his black and white harlequin unitard from their ‘Day at the races’ tour, white gloves and a black military jacket with golden epaulletes, aiguillettes and medals. This outfit can also be seen in the video for ‘Living on my own’ off of Freddie’s solo album ‘Mr. Bad Guy’.
He also wore the jacket a month later at ‘Fashion Aid’, but paired it with a black spandex.
I can’t explain why, but to me this is the pinnacle of Freddie’s fashion. It’s tough, daring, tight, classy and still very flamboyant. A thing of beauty!
1. Her Majesty, The Queen
At the end of the ‘Magic’ shows, Freddie would walk on with his white trousers, bare chest and a red king’s robe with ermine fur and golden details. Upon his head he flaunted a replica of the British crown. What else? Queen was the highlight of ‘arena rock’ for years. With the robe and crown you can see Freddie shine like the indestructable showman he was. With an unmistakable confidence (almost arrogant) he walks with his chin up and his eyes looking down upon the crowd like a wonderful red peacock.
Even though Freddie gave the impression of being very shy and introverted person off stage, this is ‘stage Freddie’ in his final form! I found that image to be so strong that I made a robe like this for our own shows. Since I had no experience, it cost me blood, sweat and tears. However, now I can strut around the stage like that as well and I have to admit, it feels glorious! That Freddie sure knew what he was doing!