George Michael left a legacy that challenged music, performance, and pop culture as a whole. His anthems, which championed frosty, glamorized bliss as much as they espoused social justice, were matched by genre-veering costumes that can still be seen in the ethnology of today. Neon dream. Queer subversion. Suspenders. No body of work better reflects this overwhelming culture composite than the late artist’s music video for “Freedom! ’90,” directed by David Fincher, who made videos with Madonna, Billy Idol, and Michael Jackson before his filmography debut.
Inspired by Peter Lindberg’s British Vogue cover from January 1990 (featuring Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington, and Cindy Crawford), Michael casted the mega-group of supermodels for the now-iconic video beside four male models and the then-unknown Mario Sorrenti. Although absent from the film himself, Michael’s “Freedom! ’90,” became an instant-classic, reclaiming the roles of the format—at that point, videos had largely featured models as romantic interests, opposite the musical artist rather as stars—and introducing the fashion-faces to a larger world. With each model lip-syncing her own verse, ”Freedom” viewed three iconic pieces from Michael’s persona—a leather jacket, jukebox, and guitar—only to destroy them in flames in acts of exemption.
Collaboratively, the video featured fashion editor Camilla Nickerson, hair stylist Guido Palau, and makeup artist Carol Brown, and became a calling card for pride, creativity, and rebirth. Just as the rest of Michael’s revolutionary library, it will continue to give life to those who need it.