How INXS frontman Michael Hutchence became a style icon

Dubbed the last rock star, INXS frontman Michael Hutchence became larger than life both on and off stage. To coincide with the 20th anniversary of his death in a hotel room at the Ritz-Carlton in Sydney, a new documentary to show on channel Seven reminds us of his charismatic stage presence and a fashion swagger that's still talked about.

Michael Hutchence: The Last Rockstar sees ex-girlfriends and his sister Tina Hutchence open up about their memories of a man who was dubbed as the next King of rock 'n' roll.

Long live the king

While INXS ruled the '80s, it was Hutchence who drew the greatest attention for his on and off stage energy. The clothes he wore were an extension of his vivacious personality – he oozed a sex appeal that blokes wanted to mimic and women wanted to be around.

There's a few names missing from the storytelling including high profile ex's like Kylie Minogue and supermodel Helena Christensen who politely declined any involvement.

But what remains clear from the documentary is the legacy Hutchence claimed as a sensual '80s rock star who celebrated his feminine side as much as his dark side.  

The style of a legend

Hutchence brought the clothing he wore to life and didn't necessarily chase fashion trends. He wrote his own rules and when looking back at his early outfits – there were some hits and definite misses.

He liked roll neck skivvies and often would team them with oversized boxy black coats. On other occasions he opted for stripe trouser pants with braces that hinted to a Pogues post-punk era.

He even had a go at double denim long before it became a cool thing and did it with white-on-white for extra impact.

One of his most unforgettable looks involved fitted tight jeans with stars and stripes emblazoned on both thighs. It was an iconic stage look that dominated INXS's Wembley Stadium show in 1991.

Advertisement

Sometimes his decade of dominance rings loud and clear in images of Hutchence wearing a Hustler T-shirt (courtesy of Sydney label Morrissey & Edmonston) under a black denim jacket with an AC/DC patch. Yet, other times, he was right at home in a black muscle T-shirt singing at the piano wearing a pony tail long before baristas wore them at cafes only to then be spotted in a shiny PVC knee length jacket over a fitted long sleeve sheer knit for his take on layering.

Larger than life

Hutchence was all ego – he knew how to attract men and women and did so unnervingly by wearing unbuttoned shirts on stage, channelling his inner Mick Jagger (even Jagger admitting Hutchence did Jagger better than he could) and blurring the lines between androgyny and masculinity.

When he started dating supermodel Helena Christensen (for four years, right after Kylie Minogue) he made his way to Paris Fashion Week to watch her walk the runway for Versace's Haute Couture Fall Winter in 1992. He is seen front row in a denim jacket and jeans with a pair of black Doc Martins.

Hutchence fused rebel rocker with a hippy heart – he wore leather and denim for the Brando effect but also sported Aztec print shirts and wore vests without shirts for a casual sleaze. He rocked leather pants and did topless as only he could. They don't call him the last rock star for nothing.

Michael Hutchence: The Last Rockstar airs at 7.30pm on Monday October 16 and Tuesday October 17 on 7.

Comments