“There are lots of versions of the story about where the famous lightning flash make-up came from. RCA Records had sent us the songs from Aladdin Sane to listen to before we did the shoot. On the day, we already knew that our main references would come from the song The Jean Genie and also from a famous 1973 Pirelli calendar Duffy had worked on with the pop artist Allen Jones and the airbrush artist Philip Castle. We also knew that we wanted the cover to show David’s torso with no clothes on. Had we not come up with the lightning flash idea, I think the image would have portrayed David in the guise of a genie.
Duffy – who sadly is no longer with us – had been heard to say that the lightning flash was inspired by a symbol that was on the little electric cooker in our studio. But I recollect all of us sitting round the studio table with a big pad of paper, talking through ideas, jotting them down. We knew that David had appeared wearing costumes with a lightning flash on them in the past, and Pierre said, ‘Let’s put the flash over his face’. I remember thinking, ‘That sounds a good idea’ and so we went with it. The orange, spiked-up hairstyle in the photo looked exactly as it did when David arrived at the studio – we didn’t have to do anything to it.”
Celia Philo who directed the shoot for David Bowie’s album Aladdin Sane. ( interview for Stylist magazine )