Michael Jackson apparently loved clothes. But he was no student of fashion, says celebrity stylist extraordinaire, Phillip Bloch, who talked to StyleList about working with the legend.
Bloch styled Jackson for what would turn out to the King of Pop's final photo shoot, the cover story for the December 2007 issue of Ebony magazine. Over two days Bloch got to know Jackson as a loving and kind person, but also as naif who seemed not to understand his impact on style history.
"Jackson wasn't up on pop culture or fashion designers," Bloch says. When the stylist arrived with a well-edited selection of high-end clothing for the photo shoot, the singer admired the clothes, asking if the notoriously British designer Paul Smith was American and whether Japanese clothier Yohji Yamamoto was Italian.
Despite his designer ignorance, Jackson was a big Roberto Cavalli fan and loved a particular Burberry military coat, saying "I always like jackets like this. I like the buttons and the details." When Bloch informed him that the look was very in at the moment and a lot of it had to do with him, Jackson responded in disbelief, "Really? That's in fashion now?"
Perhaps his comment should not have been a surprise.
"Michael Jackson was not influenced by fashion, fashion was influenced by him," Bloch says. "He was an innovator, a trailblazer. Like his iconic crystal glove -- this was way before men were dripping in diamonds. He was 'the king of bling' before the term 'bling' even existed."
He was also a delight to dress, rarely looking in the mirror (ironic for a man who sang about it) and asking few questions about the clothes chosen for the shoot.
"He was rail-thin, smaller than sample size and made to wear clothes," Bloch declares. "He fit perfectly into a woman's size 2 and a men's 40 regular."
Bloch also got to see Jackson with his son, Blanket, who visited the day before the shoot. Together they played with the assortment of diamonds borrowed for the star, who usually opted for rhinestones and theatrical costume jewelry over the real thing.
Over the two days, Bloch says Jackson struck him as a gentle and frail man in person, but a different man when the the shoot started.
It was his off-camera childlike innocence that touched Bloch. "He had a gentleness and frailty about him as a man, but when the music came on and the shoot started, his alter ego took over -- he became the 'King of Pop.'"
Despite the tawdry allegations swirling around Jackson in recent years, Bloch says the private moments they shared made the bigger impression: Jackson telling Bloch that the Oscar dress he had selected for Halle Berry was beautiful and the icon asking tons of questions about Bloch's job, saying with the utmost sincerity "you must really love what you do."
Bloch says he feels "blessed to have seen this side of the legend and to have helped create the iconic images that are now a part of history."
For more Michael Jackson coverage visit PopEater.