By Staci Layne Wilson
When you conjure up an image of Bruce Lee, you probably either think of the famous yellow and black jumpsuit he wore in the film Game of Death, or you think of him shirtless and bloody in Enter the Dragon. But the clothes made the man in many ways, according to his daughter, Shannon Lee, whom we caught up with at the gala celebration for what would have been her father’s 75th birthday (he was born on November 27, 1940 – and passed away in 1973).
Shannon, looking quite fashionable herself, told us Lee designed his iconic yellow and black jumpsuit, and “he picked that for himself and he chose it for a very specific reason: in that film, Game of Death, he battles several martial artists on the different levels, and they are all in their uniforms that represent their Art – but he wanted to be dressed in something that represented just himself. It was an expression of him as a warrior, as well as a human being. I like to think he represented the style of no style. Or… the style of awesome style!”
The event, which was hosted by Visual Communications and took place at the Japanese American National Museum, featured a showing of the short documentary “Bruce Lee: In His Own Words.” The film was followed by a Q&A with Shannon Lee and Bruce Lee’s god-daughter Diana Lee Inosanto. The pair reflected on Bruce’s impact in their own lives and his continuing legacy worldwide.
After the conversation, the celebration continued with live performances, special guests, a silent auction with unique Bruce Lee items, delicious appetizers, bites and beverages. “My father loved to celebrate his birthday so I am happy to be able to honor his 75th,” said Shannon Lee, who runs the Bruce Lee Foundation and Bruce Lee Enterprise.
Diana Lee Inosanto, daughter of martial artist Dan Inosanto, agreed it was a wonderful party, “A Birthday Celebration for the man who changed the world! And, I get to hang out with childhood JKD god-sister, Shannon! How awesome of Visual Communications to put this celebration together. Uncle Bruce loved seeing people coming together in joy!”
Bruce Lee also loved clothes and was quite the fashion plate, as Shannon Lee told us. “My father had an extremely cultivated and amazing sense of style. I like to think of him as a renaissance man, from head to toe and inside out. He was a true artist. Not just a martial artist, but also an artist in his own right – he wrote poetry, he designed his own jewelry, all sorts of things. Here in Los Angeles, he loved to shop at Fred Segel – a number of his clothing items still have their Fred Segel tags in them. He was very much about expressing himself through his clothing.”
Proceeds from the event went to support programs at Visual Communications, whose mission is to develop and support the voices of Asian American & Pacific Islander filmmakers and media artists.
For more on the Bruce Lee Foundation, check out http://www.bruceleefoundation.org/
Bruce Lee Style and 75th Birthday Celebration – Exclusive Interview with Shannon Lee