Off The Rails - Gary Numan

Celebrity wardrobes exposed
Off The Rails - Gary Numan
Through the narrow winding lanes and babbling brooks of East Sussex lies a pink medieval cottage - there dwells the master and pioneer of the electronic movement, Mr. Gary Numan. Welcomed by his gorgeous wife Gemma and gargantuous dog Wilburforce, Clash are taken through the abode to meet Numan. A collection of large swords hang upon the red walled interior along with medieval tapestries and lush velvet curtains. This may conjure an intimidating entrance, but the couple could not have been more inviting and the haven, though incredibly gothic in style, felt cosy too, with lots of family photos and ornate, interesting artefacts.

Numan begins by talking through the evolution of his various images and characters he had come across that influenced his style. “My first few albums in the late-Seventies were sci-fi based. I was at a club one night and this military looking guy was there dressed all in black.” This striking, anonymous stranger was to inspire Numan’s look at the time, and he would trawl through markets and stores in Camden finding items to recreate the image.

In the early days Numan would represent certain characters that went with the songs. These personas were mostly fictional and he would find the outfits accordingly. The red jumpsuit worn in the ‘Cars’ video was bought from a shop on Kensington High Street. “My mum did find the red one years ago,” Gary admits, “but I think a fan won it as a prize.”

During the period of albums from the early-Eighties Numan began wearing grey suits with a fedora hat. “That was all inspired by a ghost I saw with a mate of mine on the Piccadilly line. I was on my way to buy my first proper guitar and coming out of the station there was a bloke about three steps up from us on the escalator. As we got to the top we followed him around to the left and it was blocked off. There was a wall and he had disappeared.” Numan references the ghost in his hit single, ‘Are Friends Electric’ in the line, “There’s a man outside in a long coat, grey hat, smoking a cigarette.”

Around the mid-Eighties Numan humbly confesses to have lost his way a little. “The images meant to go hand in hand with the lyrical content, then I started changing my image with every album and it stopped having any relationship with the songs. One of my worst ever looks was a white suit with a red dickie bow worn on the cover of the ‘Fury’ album. I felt like the man who lost it all at Monte Carlo,” he explains. “There were adverts in the Eighties that featured this distraught looking man who had lost everything and walked about in a white suit.”

Nowdays Numan dresses mainly in black and chooses function over fashion. “In the last ten years or so it’s all become more generic. I need to move around the way I want and as expressively as I want. I love things that are functional, jackets with lots of pockets and things that are comfortable.”

“He’d still wear a bumbag if he could,” Gemma laughs. Gary defiantly states that he bought one. “Oh, can we not mention it? Don’t talk about it!” she cries, as both jokingly bicker about bumbags and a waistcoat he bought with lots of pockets from a fishing shop. His favourite shirts and jackets are by Buddhist Punk, many of which feature embroidered crucifixes. His boots are either Docs, or New Rock, and he likes to buy accessories from Affliction. “I’ve got these amazing sunglasses, the hinges are like claw hands, I bought those from Miami.” His most treasured and sentimental item sadly got stolen backstage at a gig in Coventry: “I had a jacket that I wore for my first ever big gig. It was a short, shiny PVC-like bomber jacket with a fur collar - it reminded me of the glam rock era, I loved it.”

Words by Camilla Felici
Photo by Trent Mcminn


Gary Numan releases his new album ‘Dead Son Rising’ on September 5th and tours the UK that month.

Have your say

Sign in or Register to leave comments
-