In March 2010, Elton John took to a makeshift stage at Dubai's Meydan Racecourse and opened his set with "Bennie and The Jets". As he did, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit disappointed.
Here was Elton John, a living legend – albeit mired in his same-coloured suit and t-shirt phase – playing after the Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse race, and all I could think was… I wish it was like when he played The Forum in Inglewood dressed as Minnie Mouse.
I was thrown out shortly afterwards.
But security issues aside (I’ll tell you later), the point remained. John’s style flexed far and wide from 1975 to the mid-to-late 80s. It was a thing of sheer beauty – often for the absolute absurdity of it all if nothing else, but through the roof, regardless.
Which is why it’s great to see that Rocketman, the Elton John biopic in cinemas across the Middle East from June 13, focusses so heavily on the theatrics of his wardrobe.
Starring Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard and Richard Madden; Dexter Fletcher’s film charts John’s life via fantastical sequences and classic tracks – but it’s often the creations made for Egerton by Julian Day, and his collaboration with Swarovski, that actually steal the show – with 64 outfits featuring no less than one million crystals.
So, for those in it for the style chops, here’s the lowdown on the four big-hitters to watch out for…
1. The home run
The Dodgers costume – a fully-crystallised baseball kit – is a reimagining of the iconic costume worn by John during his legendary Dodger Stadium concerts in Los Angeles in 1975. The shimmering design worn in the film by Egerton was created using 140,000 Swarovski crystals – turning the dazzle levels to near-blinding proportions in the process.
2. The firestarter
The dramatic costume that opens the movie was designed for a moment when John feels unloved, so Day surrounded him with love in the form of a fiery-red jumpsuit with heart-shaped wings. The costume blazes with bespoke crystal flames, a headdress and sunglasses all glowing with over 60,000 hand-embellished Swarovski crystals.
3. The wizard idea
The "Yellow Brick Road" costume brings to life John’s much-loved album, with design details to represent characters from The Wizard of Oz. The blue suit with crystal red lapels and the iconic ruby crystal slippers symbolise Dorothy, and the fur coat, silver shirt and straw hat characterize each of her companions: the Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow.
4. Rock royalty
Finally, the extravagant Elizabeth costume is worn during a wild stage performance. Bursting with crystal and Swarovski Crystal Pearl embellishment it plays on John’s penchant for theatrics as well as his reputation as rock royalty. The show-stopping star headdress was inspired by Hedy Lamarr’s Swarovski original in the 1941 film Zeigfeld Girls.
Rocketman is at cinemas across the Middle East from June 13