Michael Jackson's Thriller jacket

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The Thriller jacket

The red jacket worn by Michael Jackson in the Michael Jackson's Thriller video in 1983 has been referred to as the Thriller jacket. On June 27, 2011, the jacket sold for $1.8 million at Julien's Auctions. The buyer, Milton Verret, described the jacket as "the greatest piece of rock and roll memorabilia in history".[1]


The jacket was designed by Deborah Nadoolman Landis. She had also designed Indiana Jones's jacket in Raiders of the Lost Ark, among other things.[2] The red jacket was noted for its V shaped black stripes, the unusual style of the front buttons, and the angular, rigid shoulders protruding out over the tops of the arms.[3][4] Landis stated that she specifically designed the jacket to help Jackson appear more "virile".[5]

Christine Gledhill in her book Stardom: Industry of Desire (1991) discusses Jackson's overall style in Thriller as follows: "In 'Thriller', Michael's outfit and its stylistic features – the wet-look hairstyle, the ankle-cut jeans and the letter 'M' emblazoned on his jacket – reinforce this meta-textual superimposition of role. If Michael, as the male protagonist, is both boyfriend and star, his female counterpart in the equation of 'romance' is both the girlfriend and at this meta-textual level, the fans."[6]

Fashion designer Zaldy was responsible for a redesigned version of the jacket for the cancelled This Is It concerts. It had an imitation of blood on its shoulders, and on the inside a stamp resembling the feline beast Jackson turns into in the video.[7]


The jacket became the "hottest outerwear fad of the mid-1980s" and was widely emulated. It is sometimes emulated by celebrities today such as Chris Brown and Kanye West.[8][9] It also became one of the most sought after by many people and the epitome of the 1980s teen cool.[10][11] The jacket he wore in the Thriller video, along with a copy of the black and white leather jacket he wore in one of the Pepsi commercials and in the dance rehearsal portions behinds the scenes of The Making of Michael Jackson's Thriller, are among his best-selling jackets.[12] Expensive counterfeits were mass-produced and often sold for over $500 to people thinking they were getting the real thing.[13] Because of this mass counterfeiting and the profits it earned, in 1984 Jackson filed a lawsuit in New York City to prevent unauthorized copies of the jacket and his other merchandise.[12]


  1. ^ "Michael Jackson's Thriller jacket sells for $1.8m at auction". BBC News. 27 June 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
  2. ^ Communications, Emmis (April 1985). Texas Monthly. Emmis Communications. p. 176. ISSN 0148-7736. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  3. ^ Williams, Russell (June 2003). Reborn Again. Xulon Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-59160-675-8. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  4. ^ Gautier, Yves (3 May 2010). Michael Jackson, Backdoor to Neverland: Exposing the King of Pop's Secret Mindsets. Yves GAUTIER. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-4528-1576-3. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  5. ^ Lauren Goode (30 June 2009). "Deborah Landis, Designer of the Red Jacket Michael Jackson Wore in "Thriller"". Wall Street Journal. Speakeasy. Retrieved 4 July 2009. At the time, she says, the 25-year-old Jackson weighed only 99 lbs, with a 26-inch waist ("exactly the same height and weight as Fred Astaire"), and one of the challenges she faced was making the performer appear more "virile."
  6. ^ Gledhill, Christine (1991). Stardom: industry of desire. Routledge. p. 309. ISBN 978-0-415-05217-7. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  7. ^ The Gloved One (Documentary)|format= requires |url= (help). Michael Jackson's This Is It DVD: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. 2010.
  8. ^ Mansour, David (1 June 2005). From Abba to Zoom: a pop culture encyclopedia of the late 20th century. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 487. ISBN 978-0-7407-5118-9. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  9. ^ International textiles. International textiles. 2001. p. 185. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  10. ^ Men's Health. Rodale, Inc. March 2006. p. 9. ISSN 1054-4836. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  11. ^ English journal. National Council of Teachers of English. 1994. p. 59. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  12. ^ a b Campbell, Lisa D. (March 1993). Michael Jackson: the king of pop. Branden Books. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-8283-1957-7. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  13. ^ Hadden, Briton; Luce, Henry Robinson (1984). Time. Time Inc. p. 152. Retrieved 16 May 2011.