When Michael Jackson was laid to rest in 2009, he was adorned in some of the striking, decorative clothing that the "King of Pop" was famous for wearing during his performances, along with a pair of simple Florsheim dance shoes.
Jackson was dressed for his burial, as he had been for almost 25 years, by Michael Bush, the designer who, along with the late Dennis Tompkins, was responsible for creating many of the King of Pop’s most iconic outfits.
A selection of the costumes the pair created are on display in Los Angeles until Nov. 30 at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills.
Tompkins and Bush (right) created between 900 and 1,200 pieces for Jackson, including a solid rhinestone bedspread for his ranch that weighed 73 pounds. Some 475 pieces from the pair's collection of clothing for Jackson will be auctioned at Julien's on Dec. 2.
The designers first worked with Jackson on the set of “Captain EO” for Disney in 1985. The pieces they created for Jackson are documented in Bush’s book, “The King of Style: Dressing Michael Jackson,” published on Nov. 6.
This is the first book on the artist’s wardrobe, which is almost as beloved as his music and dance moves. Bush will embark on a U.S. book tour in December, taking many creations with him.
“When I was waiting to go on the 'Today' show last week, [Homeland Security secretary] Janet Napolitano walked past me backstage and saw the costumes I had with me and said, ‘That’s Michael Jackson, 1986. That’s Michael Jackson, 1990.’ It was amazing,” Bush told TheWrap.
Included in the book and on display at Julien’s are some of the late pop star’s best-loved outfits, including the "Beat It" jacket — a red zipper-front jacket — from Jackson's Dangerous Tour, which may fetch between $50,000 and $75,000 at auction.
Also up for sale is the "HIStory Teaser" jacket (right) created to promote his 1995 album. The black wool jacket is embellished with silver studs and braided metal epaulets. It will be auctioned for an estimated $50,000 to $75,000.
Jackson’s "Bad" tour jacket, a black stretch gabardine, zip-front jacket embellished with leather buckle straps, is being auctioned for $80,000 and $120,000.
The singer's black cashmere hussars jacket, with red armbands and cuffs and covered in black braided rope is for sale for an estimated $40,000 to $60,000. Jackson wore it to the White House in 1990 when he was honored by President George H.W. Bush as Entertainer of the Decade.
Then there is his fantasy glove, a white spandex glove covered in alternating rows of Swarovski Loch Rosen and square iridescent crystals, which is being auctioned for $15,000 to $20,000.
“Many museums have shown an interest in these pieces, which is a good thing because some of them are starting to fade and tear,” said Bush, who kept the famous "Bad" tour jacket under his bed in a cardboard box for 20 years.
The pop star had given many of the costumes back to Bush for inclusion in the book, which he has been planning for two decades. “Michael was so generous,” he said. “He would give you something if you said you liked it."
Although Bush said it has been hard to part with clothes from the man he described as his best friend, he has decided to sell most of the objects, with a portion of the proceeds going to charities.
Bush found the process of designing with Jackson to be amusing. “We would sit at a table with some paper. He had a pencil, and I had a pencil with erasers. He would draw something, and I would say that I don’t want to make that. And then I would draw something, and he would say I am not going to wear that. It was like two kids with crayons, seeing who could mess up the other one’s drawing better than the other one could,” he said.
Although they were not the first ones to dress Jackson in his favorite military-inspired look, the duo created many of Jackson’s embellished military-style jackets now up for auction. One is even covered in cutlery.
“Michael’s mentality was, 'I am going to sing the beat and you have to help me show the beat,'" said Bush.
“Michael’s basic mentality was I am not a model, I am a dancer,” said Bush. “But he also understood show time. He didn’t care less what he wore otherwise. If he came in here in his personal clothes, you wouldn’t know it was Michael Jackson. He would wear oversized shirts, trousers, stepped down shoes. But he understood when he stood out in public that people wanted to see a show.”
Bush said Jackson slept in Nordstrom over-the-counter pajamas. But for his final outfit, he was dressed in a copy of the pearl jacket he wore when his sister Janet handed him a Grammy in 1994.
He was also dressed in black Levis encrusted in black seed beads, as well as Lucite shin guards that Jackson was supposed to wear for the opening number of “This Is It,” the tour he was rehearsing for when he died, as well as an 18-karat gold-plated champion belt adored with semi-precious stones and a pair of his sunglasses.
Tompkins and Bush designed the outfit, and Bush had to dress him one last time.
“I didn’t know if I could do it,” he said. “But LaToya said 'you know what he would pick out.' Dennis said, ‘let’s put him in his favorite jacket.’ We called the family, and no one knew where it was. I had one question: In public he wore his personal appearance shoes. Which shoes should he wear? LaToya said, ‘Oh my God. No. My brother has to go out of the world dancing.'”