An era gone by

Written by New York Times | Updated: Jun 28 2009, 06:41am hrs
Sandra Barrera

A modest white suit. Four bejeweled military-cut designer jackets. A pair of embellished, right-handed gloves. For the millions now mourning Michael Jackson, these seven pieces may very well be talismanic artifacts of an era gone by.

A few days ago these items on loan to the Grammy Museum from Jacksons private estate were part of the outgoing Michael Jackson: HIStyle, a fashion-driven look at the King of Pops royal style that opened back in February. Just as the last pieces were coming down, word came of the artists death. And so, the museum decided to put the exhibition back. to offer mourners comfort in the days, weeks and possible months to come.

I think theyre going to find it meaningful to view the objects and sort of be in the presence of the man that they lost, says Ken Luftig Viste, chief curator of the Grammy Museum. So, not only is it valuable for them to come here and see this but ... be reminded of this magical gift that he gave us.

Michael was someone who had his finger on the pulse of what pop music was all about, says Robert Santelli, ED of the Grammy Museum. The kind of hooks and phrasing in his songs indicates to someone like me who has studied music for a long time that here is an artist who was near genius. This is a person who understood completely what makes a great pop song,

Jackson, after all, was the King of Pop. And he dressed the part. Perhaps the most iconic item in the Grammy display on the third floor in the Life of a Recording space is the white Hugo Boss suit that Jackson wore on the dynamic cover of 1982s Thriller, which at the time was the best-selling worldwide album of all time.

That record so elevated him into the pop stratosphere that he became pop royalty of the highest order and his stage outfit began to reflect that, Santelli says, referring to Jacksons preference for increasingly bejeweled pieces. He even wore bejeweled socks. By the end of a show there would be glass everywhere, Viste says. And so, theyd get out there and sweep up everything. The lights would come back up and hed be back out with a whole other outfit. Pretty phenomenal stuff.