He kept us singing along to a stream of catchy tunes and had us riveted with his acrobatic dancing, but equally important to the legacy of Michael Jackson was his one-of-a-kind fashion sense. Like fellow artists David Bowie, Madonna and Lady Gaga, the entertainer extraordinaire churned out hits while constantly pushing the envelope on his personal presentation.
MJ first rose to prominence as an adolescent in the Jackson 5, alongside brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and later Randy, where they dazzled audiences with a whirl of choreographed moves in their matching floral prints, polyester suits and full-blown afros.
But it was his emergence as a solo artist that propelled Jackson to the status of fashion icon. The Off the Wall (1979) period showcased MJ in his sparkling disco finest, and by the time the Quincy Jones-produced Thriller (1982) detonated on the pop-culture landscape, people everywhere were clamoring for a red leather jacket and sequined glove as they attempted to moonwalk.
Later in the decade, the artist was off in new directions for his follow-up mega-album, Bad (1987). There was the leather and buckle get-up for the title track video, directed by Martin Scorsese and co-starring Wesley Snipes. Jackson then went the classic route for "Smooth Criminal," his all-white suit a nod to a graceful predecessor, Fred Astaire.
Jackson became known for his military-inspired outfits, accessorized with eye-grabbing elements like a leotard, shin guards or arm bandage, but also favored the stripped-down look of a white V-neck T-shirt. In videos, he clad himself in gold to steal supermodel Iman from Eddie Murphy in "Remember the Time," and teamed with little sister, Janet, for a spiky black ensemble in the futuristic "Scream."
While he produced fewer groundbreaking videos in his later years, Jackson remained a standout presence in the fashion world, often appearing in women's jackets designed by powerhouse brands Givenchy and Balmain.
Whether he was wearing his trademark fedora, aviators, armband or sequined socks, Jackson set a sartorial standard that influenced the superstar artists who followed, from Usher and Bruno Mars to Rihanna and Beyoncé. Their tributes cementing his place as the unquestioned King of Pop.