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1974 1975 1976 1977-78 1979-80 1981 1982-83 1989


The Elder 1981/82
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KISS wanted a radical change in their image for "The Elder", and you will have to admit, that they succeeded in doing just that. Shorter hair, "New Romantics" style costumes, and softer music. Not everybody was happy about the change... most fans hated it, and the bandmembers themselves weren't too happy either. Surprisingly, and even though the outfits were only in use a very few times (a couple of photo shoots, and a few TV appearances), a great deal of changes were made along the way
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Despite the short time the costumes were in service, Gene managed to revise it no less than three times. On pictures A to E we see the original costume, a leather top, with an open chest, leather shoulder pads, silver bracelets, and leather cuffs, with steel rings. 
Picture B shows the pants and boots. The pants were made of chain mail, which was a material that had never been used before. Photo C shows the costume from behind, and reveals that Gene wore black tights underneath the chain mail! 
The boots were steel tipped cowboy boots, and had a chain mail cover, with a black leather top (see in picture B).
Picture D shows that Gene's costume was also open in the sides. A piece of chain mail, made of extremely large steel rings held the costume together.
Gene's hair had not been cut short, but was assembled in a pigtail on the back, with a silver ring around it, resembling his bracelets. As it can be seen on picture E, Gene also had some other stuff tied to his hair: some red ribbons and some animal teeth. This could have been inspired by Adam Ant, who were immensely popular at that time. He also had ribbons tied to his hair, as part of his pirate/indian look. Gene revealed in some interviews from the period, that he liked Adam's band Adam And The Ants.

gene81b.jpg (49655 Byte)The next version of the costume is seen in picture F. It's the same outfit, except the chain mail pants had been dropped. The chain mail was probably too uncomfortable to wear for performances, or perhaps too heavy. Also new is the glove Gene is wearing under the left cuff.
Picture G is a close-up of the boots. They were ordinary black, cowboy boots.
The outfit in picture H is the last version. The shoulder pads are made from a different, puffier material, and the silver bracelets have been exchanged by a couple of black ones. These were, by the way, chained to the shoulder pads (see picture I for proof).
The costume were asymmetrical: on the right arm he wore a sleeve under the black bracelet and the cuff is one from the first version. On the left arm the bracelet was chained to the shoulder pad, and Gene instead wore a cuff with flat square studs, just like with his Love Gun/Alive II costume (detail in picture I). Note that the shoulder pads are also different from each other. 

return to KISS costumes main page
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Many thanks to Jan Laursen for letting us use these pages.
Here is the link to his website:

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