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Black crepe backed rayon satin flared trousers, folded in box, Worthing Museum 1983/419. 17/02/23. Photo by Chelsea Mountney. Author’s personal collection.

February 26, 2023

David Bowie’s trousers : Finding popular music treasures in England’s regional museums.

Located on England’s South coast, Worthing Museum has one of the largest collections of costume in the UK, housing over 30,000 pieces dating from the 1700s to present day. Fashion historian Chelsea Mountney talks to MAG_BTM about uncovering some music related treasures in this incredible archive.

“I hadn’t been aware of Worthing’s rich rock history until my mother-in-law regaled exciting tales about the gigs she enjoyed in Worthing as a teenager, like how at a Who gig, Roger Daltry grinned at her while she stood backstage or the time she tried to play it cool at a David Bowie gig but couldn’t resist reaching out to touch his shiny boot.

These stories of 1960s and 70s rock acts gigging in Worthing completely captured my imagination, the screeching guitars and psychedelic lyrics in contrast to the quaint seaside town.

Then one chilly December day, while tucked away in Worthing Museums dress archive, the forever knowledgeable PhD student Jo asked me if I’d seen David Bowie’s trousers? Well, as a long-time David Bowie super geek, as are all his fans, you can imagine how my heart started beating faster, and by the time Jo had unwrapped and unboxed the shiny black flares, I had flushed bright red with excitement.

These shiny black, crepe backed, rayon satin, massively flared trousers were reputedly found in David Bowie’s dressing room after one of his gigs in Worthing. The person who donated them stated the star wore them, and the rip that ran along the back seam of the trousers was created during his performance.