Piecing together photographs, handwritten scores and biographical musings, We Want Miles (Rizzoli) breaks down the essence of the jazz supremo Miles Davis by charting the seven most important phases in his life. As trite and cliche as it might sound, Davis was the definition of cool as we know it, and taking a turn through the pages of this book gives you an overview of that coolness from beginning to end. It starts with infant pics of young Miles in his Sunday best—suited, booted and cheesing from ear to ear outside his home in East St Louis, Illinois. Even before he was a star, Davis had an elegance that always looked easy and he would flaunt polka dot ties, herringbone three-pieces or a plain old leisure shirt with the same sense of subtle glamour. In his darker days, he was known to have pawned his own trumpet to feed his drug habit—sometimes showing up to studio sessions without an instrument—but the spiffy well-groomed veneer was always intact.
Most people like to reference the classic monochrome looks that Davis sported in the early ’60s, but it’s towards the end of his career that things got most interesting and out-there stylistically. There is a great image in the book of Davis in his closet in 1971, surrounded by stacks of platform shoes, spangly belts and studded jeans. He’s wearing the kind of deep v-neck tunic that would have looked just as good on a girl like Marsha Hunt, but somehow he pulls the whole thing off. His penchant for huge bug-eyed frames in the late ’80s was wholly futuristic for its time, and were the kind of stunners that Lil Wayne might rock today. Possibly the ultimate fashion moment in the entire tome is a picture of Miles David taken in February 1987 at a fashion show. Japanese designer Kohshin Satoh asked Davis to walk in the show, and created a special custom outfit for the event. Andy Warhol was also invited along, and in the image you can see Warhol walking behind the Dark Magus, keeping his long black train from touching the ground.