Jareth: Portrait of a Clotheshorse

Back in 1987, movie-goers wanted breathtaking vistas as much as they do today, but designers didn't have the CGI technology to produce such things effectively. Instead they made it from scratch by:

1. Casting gorgeous, Rock-Star Man Candy in the fantasy world of "Labyrinth."


2. Decking him in the most amazing, gothic-hunk wardrobe ever seen.

We're introduced to Jareth in this glittering ensemble, complete with leather mail and a flying cloak in gunmetal blue. He is clearly The Man, The King, and enjoys showing it off. This is but the first of many wardrobe changes that make little sense given the narrative time frame (less than twelve hours), but no one ever complains. Actually it's hard to know where the heart of "Labyrinth" sits: In Bowie himself, the Jareth character, or these outfits that are scenery and irrepressible character unto themselves. Even Bowie - with his creative history of glam-draped personae - cannot best Jareth's sophistication here.
That's why we have pages devoted to Jareth, his wardrobe, and all his accessories. The following quotes come from Brian Froud, who designed most of it. (We thank him to this day!)

A closer look under set lights reveals the exquisite detail that has been put into all of Jareth's image. Immediately, he's everything we love about men, goblins, rock stars, bad boys, and anti-heroes, wrapped together in sensual leather and buckles and whatall else there that begs to be touched and unfastened.

2. Casual and Active-Wear

This is the most iconic of Jareth's costumes. He spends a lot of time in it, and it's roughly the way he looks in the figurine version of himself in Sarah's room. It's ideal for lounging around the royal chamber, it includes the famously tight gray pants, and it's nicely gothic with the draping sleeves and high boots.
We also see him tapping the Crystal-Handled Swagger Stick on his foot. This is one of his favorite props: An outlet for his distractable energy, a stand-in mic when he plays a gig in this sequence, and good for whacking goblins around.

The Goblin Symbol

Active Wear is for the Showman in Jareth and the ladies in the audience. It's cool enough to perform in, and it displays some of his impressive attributes front-and-center. Most noticeable is Bowie's lean and mean physique, and the open throat where the Goblin Symbol hangs. This pendant was designed just for Labyrinth and is the best movie prop in history, if not the most awesome thing ever made. Back in the day, it was a shiny afterthought that you had to look close to notice. Nowadays it's quite famous, known as:

The Talisman for all Things Labyrinth!

Sometimes it's even called The Bowie Symbol. They even sell replicas, as you can see to the right. You can get one On the River if you've got $30 disposable. The only trouble with the Replica is that it doesn't come with Jareth's neck or chest attached, and (if the promotional pic is accurate) it's a poor substitute for the original. Jareth's symbol is mirrored steel with golden accent and even golden tips. The Replica isn't even smooth - more like pitted silvertone, and has a figure-8 design that doesn't seem to match. The whole shape of it is off, too. The replica is chunky and compact with none of the original's grace.
Check out the real deal:

We haven't purchased one of these. We're not impressed with the $30 plus tax (where applicable) and shipping. And the way it's been advertised makes us go "Hmmm...":

"Completely restored to exacting specifications."

3. Quick Change!

At some point during the Oubliette sequence, Jareth dashes in and out of a phone booth. He appears briefly in this similar costume (maybe the same vest?), but has switched out his shirt for a black one.
Of course, the White Duke looks awesome in black.

4. Jareth in His Leathery Best

It's impossible to pick a favorite Jareth Costume, but this one is near the top for us. From the sequence in The Underground's underground, this steel-studded, swooping-cut jacket even has a Goblin-symbol clasp around the waist. Apparently the designer had trouble coming up with a leather coat that would say "Sexy Goblin Bad Boy" with the proper emphasis, but you'd never know it. The perfect texture and color, the folded cuffs, the armor on the shoulder... A touch of chivalry plus the contemporary mischief that leather implies, equals:

Irresistible Jareth Catnip.

This is the dashing young rake that all girls dream about. He's all ego, aggressive and secretly insecure, friendly when he wants to be, but slightly dangerous. Deep down he has a conscience and his own kind of moral code, but like Jareth, he enjoys being bad on the outside. Women claim to "outgrow" him at a certain age, but it's BS. They'd dump their steady guy in a heartbeat if this showed up on the doorstep.

5. Crystal Evening-Wear

Between the Oubliette and the outer reaches of the Bog, we get another brief ensemble, one that seems to be a blend of pieces from other costumes. The blue-lined cloak from the Black Armor, the usual gray trousers, and the black shirt (?) from the Phonebooth QuickChange. It's hard to tell in this lighting.
It makes for Costume #5: Semi-Outdoor Fantasy Interlude.
It's more subtle than the others, for quiet moments like this when Jareth needs to concentrate.

The Crystals!

This is Jareth's other accessory, a vital part of his character. He uses the round crystal as a storage container and conduit for magic. Visual magic specifically, as it can record imagery or display live people and places. It can store fantasies that have never happened, or act as a window to things that are actually happening elsewhere. (This is a real timesaver, as Jareth can spy on people without having to travel.) Most impressive, the Crystal can be a *Portal* to a dreamworld; it seems to be possible to enter it and actually live its fantasy realm directly.

The Crystal is an amazing device. It lets all your wishes and dreams become real, and the portal allows you to leave your current, excruciating life behind, potentially forever. This is the greatest gift, probably something that King Jareth would only offer to someone he has feelings for.

Pick up your jaw and head to Page 2.

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