A Look Back At All the Genius Ways David Bowie Transcended Beauty Norms

While we were lucky enough to have David Bowie here with us, he managed to cycle through countless reinventions when it came to his music, his persona, and his style. Bowie inspired countless people in so many different ways, but especially those who saw themselves as different, as outcasts, as aliens. Bowie provided courage and comfort for those who dared to look different from everyone else, because he made looking different the cool thing to do. In fact, it was his insistence on sporting nontraditional hair and makeup—and constantly switching to new looks—that made him stand out, so that now his music is inseparable from his style statements.

From his fresh-faced, curly-haired beginning at the arrival of Space Oddity in 1969, to his iconic Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane makeup looks in the ‘70s (and that orange mullet!), to his most recent look in which he embraced his age with dignity and close-cropped silver hair, David Bowie has used his chameleon-like ability to change his looks to always keep himself fresh and interesting.

And yet, he always managed to be uniquely, instantly recognizable as himself. The thin lips, high cheekbones, piercing gaze (with one pupil permanently blown out): David Bowie was, frankly, naturally beautiful. Not that that ever stopped him from painting his entire face in makeup—and that’s just one of the reasons why we loved him. He broke gender norms, fought against mainstream expectations, embraced androgyny and refused to conform. If Bowie’s legacy will be anything, surely it will be the message that he sent and will continue to send to outsiders around the world: that it’s OK—that it’s better, even—to be strange.

Now, like he once said, “turn and face the strange.” Below, click through to browse ten of David Bowie’s most iconic and transcendent beauty looks of all time.