LOS ANGELES — The zipper-covered "Beat It" jacket. The military-inspired coats with their epaulets, crests and insignias. And, of course, that glittery glove.

Michael Jackson's fashion sense was as singular as his musical style and dance moves. Millions imitated his pegged pants and penny loafers, a fedora cocked just so.

Jackson's longtime costumer reveals the secrets behind the King of Pop's meticulously crafted, regal rock-star look – and an intimate glimpse into the man himself – in a colorful new book, "The King of Style: Dressing Michael Jackson."

"When you worked with him, you couldn't wait to get there and you didn't want to leave when you got done," said author/costume designer Michael Bush, who with his late partner, Dennis Tompkins, dressed Jackson for more than a generation. "It was hard to imagine anyone that projected fashion and style any better."

What most people don't know about Jackson, Bush said, is he was a joker – a playful prankster who loved to laugh and often teased those closest to him the most.

Bush tells of meeting Jackson for the first time in 1983, when both men were 25. The King of Pop hadn't retained a costumer yet, and Bush was up for consideration. Jackson had been holed up for hours in his trailer on the set of "Captain EO." Bush could hear a monkey squealing as he approached. It was dark inside and "like 120 degrees." Jackson was snacking.

Eager to please as he prepped the pop star's clothes, Bush felt something hit him gently in the head. A cherry stem. A few seconds later, it happened again. When it happened a third time, Bush lobbed a cherry at the rising superstar. Jackson tossed a handful back, and thus began a close professional and personal relationship that spanned the remainder of Jackson's life.

"I think he wanted someone he could play with. He just wanted to see, `Am I going to have fun with this person?'" said Bush, now 54, an almost sheepish, informally trained clothier from Ohio who learned his craft from his mom and grandmother, who made wedding gowns, prom dresses and quilts.

"And I laughed every day until he died."

Bush wouldn't discuss the time Jackson wore pajama bottoms to court during his child-molestation trial in 2005, but relished in other details of the entertainer's unique approach to his performance attire.

"Michael's concept was, `I want the fashion designers in the world, the big conglomerates, I want them to copy me. I don't want to wear what's out there. I want to push my individuality, and being that my music is me, my look should be me,'" Bush said in an interview at a warehouse in Los Angeles, racks of glittery history behind him.

Jackson's stage costumes were designed to display his dance moves, so Bush and Tompkins, who died last December, were treated to regular private dance recitals to inform their work. Jackson danced five or six hours a day whether he was on tour or not, Bush said: "He traveled with a hardwood floor in a road case."

All that dancing, such as during the 1987 "Bad" world tour, meant Jackson could drop so much weight during a concert that the costumes for his closing numbers had to be smaller than the ones for the show openers.

"Michael was usually a 28-inch waist, but by the midpoint of the show, when he was ready to perform his magic act of choice, right before `Beat It,' he'd already lost five pounds of water, and his waist dropped to 27 and a quarter," Bush writes in "The King of Style." "If we didn't have clothes hanging on the rack in the right order that were getting progressively smaller, we'd risk him putting on a pair of pants that would fall to his ankles with each rhythmic move of his body And there is no magic in that!"

The King of Pop preferred China silk, silk charmeuse and stretchy fabrics. "Spandex made Michael feel sleek and secure and worked for his dance style," Bush writes.

Then there were the military jackets, the rhinestone-encrusted interpretations of British war uniforms like the one Jackson wore at the 1984 Grammy Awards, when he raked in a record eight awards for "Thriller."

Jackson had a childlike fascination with rhinestones, Bush said.

"Sometimes I'd drive three hours to retrieve loose rhinestones straight from the factory, just because looking at them in that raw form pleased Michael to no end. Every time I opened the swatch of white felt that encased the rhinestones, he'd gasp," he writes. "He'd take them from me and delicately move them around with his fingertips and whisper... `Can you imagine being a pirate opening a treasure chest? And seeing all the glitter inside? What a fascinating life, to be a pirate like that.'"

Bush and Tompkins worked with Jackson until the pop star's death in June 2009. Though they weren't in charge of the costumes for the ill-fated "This Is It" comeback tour, Jackson's longtime costume designers created ensembles for seven songs, including a reprise of his "Billie Jean" outfit with its loafers and spangled socks. There was also a burgundy and gold monogrammed top with a Chinese collar and bell sleeves, and a pair of black bedazzled shin guards.

Bush declined to share any details about Jackson's health or demeanor in his final days. He did say, though, that the King of Pop had always hoped his costumes would be celebrated in books and museums, and Bush is humbled by making that dream a reality. The costumer will exhibit some of Jackson's performance outfits in South America, Europe and Asia before releasing his book on Oct. 30. Many of the costumes will be sold at auction in December, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Recording Academy's MusiCares charity.


_ AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen is on Twitter: . www.twitter.com/APSandy




Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Michael Jackson Pepsi Generation

    Michael Jackson teams up with director Bob Giraldi in a Pepsi commerical for the "new generation".

  • Michael Jackson - Beat It

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing Beat It.

  • Michael Jackson - Billie Jean

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing Billie Jean.

  • Michael Jackson - Man In The Mirror

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing Man In The Mirror.

  • Michael Jackson - Black Or White

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing Black Or White.

  • Michael Jackson - PYT (Pretty Young Thing)


  • Michael Jackson - They Don't Care About Us

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing They Don't Care About Us. (C) 1996 MJJ Productions Inc.

  • Michael Jackson - Earth Song

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing Earth Song.

  • Michael Jackson - Remember The Time

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing Remember The Time. (C) 1992 MJJ Productions Inc.

  • Michael Jackson - You Rock My World (Extended Version)

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing You Rock My World. (C) 2001 MJJ Productions Inc.

  • Michael Jackson - Bad

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing Bad.

  • Michael Jackson - Scream

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing Scream.

  • Michael Jackson - Dirty Diana

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing Dirty Diana. (C) 2009 Sony Music Entertainment

  • Michael Jackson - The Way You Make Me Feel

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing The Way You Make Me Feel.

  • Michael Jackson - Thriller

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing Thriller. (C) 1982 MJJ Productions Inc.

  • Moonwalk - Michael Jackson - Billie Jean - The First Moonwalk King Of Pop

    Michael Jackson - Billie Jean (Motown 25th Anniversary Yesterday Today Forever ) The First Moonwalk King Of Pop on " Billie Jean " at the 25th anniversary of Motown. A moment of anthology ! 1983 Le premier Moonwalk du King Of Pop sur " Billie Jean "

  • Michael Jackson - Who Is It

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing Who Is It. (C) 1993 MJJ Productions Inc.

  • Michael Jackson - Ghost

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing Ghost. (C) 2000 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT

  • Michael Jackson - This Is It

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing This Is It. (C) 2009 MJJ Productions Inc.

  • Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal (Michael Jackson's Vision)

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing Smooth Criminal (Michael Jackson's Vision). (C) 2010 MJJ Productions, Inc.

  • Michael Jackson - Hollywood Tonight

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing "Hollywood Tonight." (C) 2011 Optimum Productions

  • Michael Jackson - Human Nature (Full Music Video)

    "Human Nature" is an R&B song by American recording artist Michael Jackson. It was written by Steve Porcaro and John Bettis, and produced by Quincy Jones for the singer's sixth solo album, Thriller (1982). Initially, Porcaro had recorded a rough demo of the song on a cassette, which was then given to Jones. Enjoying the demo, Jones had the ballad included on the Thriller album. The song was the last selected for the album, ousting "Carousel" from the final track listing. "Human Nature" was released on July 3, 1983, as the album's fifth single. Although not released in the UK, the song achieved moderate chart success in the US. Reaching number two on Billboard's Hot Adult Contemporary chart and number seven on the Hot 100, the song became Jackson's fifth Top 10 hit from Thriller. In New Zealand the single reached number 11. The ballad garnered many positive reviews from music critics. "Human Nature" has been covered and sampled by numerous artists, including Miles Davis, SWV, Nas, Jason Nevins and Boyz II Men..... read more info at: wikipedia.org ((((((Human Nature lyrics)))))) [1st Verse] Looking Out Across The Night-Time The City Winks A Sleepless Eye Hear Her Voice Shake My Window Sweet Seducing Sighs [2nd Verse] Get Me Out Into The Night-Time Four Walls Won't Hold Me Tonight If This Town Is Just An Apple Then Let Me Take A Bite [Chorus] If They Say - Why, Why, Tell 'Em That Is Human Nature Why, Why, Does He Do Me That Way If They Say - Why, Why, Tell 'Em That Is Human <b>...</b>

  • Michael Jackson - Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough. (C) 2001 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT

  • SMILE- Michael Jackson

    A great mj tune and a touch heartbreaking. follow me on Twitter rickyjaxon

  • Michael Jackson - Leave Me Alone

    Music video by Michael Jackson performing Leave Me Alone. (C) 1987 MJJ Productions Inc.