Michael Jackson's Thriller jacket
The red jacket worn by Michael Jackson in the Michael Jackson's Thriller video in 1983 has been referred to as the Thriller jacket. Designed by Deborah Nadoolman Landis, the candy-apple-red jacket, with black strips, was noted for its many zips, its "M" logo and Star Trek-esque angular, rigid shoulder design. The jacket became the "hottest outerwear fad of the mid-1980s" and was widely emulated. Because counterfeit copies of the jacket could sell at over $500, in 1984 Jackson filed a lawsuit in New York City to prevent unauthorized copies of the jacket and his other merchandise. On June 27, 2011, the jacket sold for $1.8 million at Julien's Auctions. The buyer, Milton Verret, described the jacket as "the greatest piece of rock and roll memorabilia in history".
The jacket was designed by Deborah Nadoolman Landis. She had also designed Indiana Jones's jacket in Raiders of the Lost Ark, among other things. The red jacket was noted for its V shaped black stripes, the unusual style of the front buttons, and the angular, rigid shoulders protruding out over the tops of the arms. Landis stated that she specifically designed the jacket to help Jackson appear more "virile".
Christine Gledhill in her book Stardom: Industry of Desire (1991) discusses Jackson's overall style in Thriller as follows: "In 'Thriller', Michael's outfit and its stylistic features – the wet-look hairstyle, the ankle-cut jeans and the letter 'M' emblazoned on his jacket – reinforce this meta-textual superimposition of role. If Michael, as the male protagonist, is both boyfriend and star, his female counterpart in the equation of 'romance' is both the girlfriend and at this meta-textual level, the fans."
Fashion designer Zaldy was responsible for a redesigned version of the jacket for the cancelled This Is It concerts. It had an imitation of blood on its shoulders, and on the inside a stamp resembling the feline beast Jackson turns into in the video.
The jacket became the "hottest outerwear fad of the mid-1980s" and was widely emulated. It is sometimes emulated by celebrities today such as Chris Brown and Kanye West. It also became one of the most sought after by many people and the epitome of the 1980s teen cool. The jacket he wore in the Thriller video, along with a copy of the black and white leather jacket he wore in one of the Pepsi commercials and in the dance rehearsal portions behinds the scenes of The Making of Michael Jackson's Thriller, are among his best-selling jackets. Expensive counterfeits were mass-produced and often sold for over $500 to people thinking they were getting the real thing. Because of this mass counterfeiting and the profits it earned, in 1984 Jackson filed a lawsuit in New York City to prevent unauthorized copies of the jacket and his other merchandise.
At the end of documentary Leaving Neverland accuser Wade Robson was shown standing next to a bonfire, burning various pieces of memorabilia including Jackson’s Thriller jacket. Some spectators claimed it was not a genuine one, but Robson and director Dan Reed repeatedly refuted the claims.
According to Julien’s Auctions, in 2011 Robson sold one of Jackson's sequined gloves and a jacket from "Thriller" for $31,250 and $49,920 respectively. The auction house verified the sale on Twitter in response to critics of Robson, who accused him of participating in the documentary for financial gain.
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At the time, she says, the 25-year-old Jackson weighed only 99 lbs, with a 26-inch waist ("exactly the same height and weight as Fred Astaire"), and one of the challenges she faced was making the performer appear more "virile."
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- Daly, Rhian (5 March 2019). "Wade Robson clarifies whether he burned Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' jacket". NME.
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- "Michael Jackson Accuser Tried to Sell Memorabilia Anonymously". The Blast. 25 February 2019.
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