EXCLUSIVE LOOK: Michael Jackson’s Last Costumes

06/30/2009 at 03:36 PM ET

Michael Bush-Tompkins/Bush archives

As Michael Jackson prepared for his final This Is It tour, friends on set say the pop star was never better. “He’s still a terrific dancer,” says costume designer Dennis Tompkins, who worked with Michael Bush to create an “over the top” wardrobe for the tour. On his final night of rehearsal, Jackson “was doing the moonwalk. Everything!” says Bush. “He did the whole show full out at performance level. He was like, ‘When are we going to London? Let’s go. I’m ready.’” He was also on a creative high. “Working with Michael for 25 years we had never seen his creativity at this level,” says Bush. “It was like where is this coming from? I get goose bumps thinking about what this visual was going to look like.” Though the show won’t go on, Bush and Tompkins gave PEOPLE an exclusive look at just that. Here’s an inside look at what you might have seen. –Charlotte Triggs

1. A THRILLING JACKET: Costumers Michael Bush and Dennis Tompkins re-created Jackson’s iconic looks for each of the 26 songs he was to perform, but the singer asked, “How can we take it to the next level?” Bush recalls. The solution? Fiber-optic lights sewn onto his red leather “Thriller” jacket, for a surprise light show timed to the music.

2. OLD FAVES: Jackson was going to back his signature crystal glove and socks, which caught the light — and assured that even fans in the back could see him dance. “He was so excited to perform,”says Bush.

3. A MILITARY SALUTE: For the star’s rendition of “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” Bush and Tompkins created a “regimented, military” look.

4. BELTS AND WHISTLES: Tompkins had to make sure items like this jeweled belt would fit Jackson’s slight 27 3/4 inch waist, but says his weight was not an issue: “He was a bit smaller, but he was always thin.”

5. MAJOR DANCE MOVES: Jackson’s new Billie Jean suit held 7.5 lbs. of Swarovski crystals and 60 lights, so the star made sure he could do a spin before signing off. “The dance came first; costumes were secondary,” says Bush. “And his moves were sharper than ever.”

Click here to see all of PEOPLE.com’s coverage of Michael Jackson.

FILED UNDER: Music Style

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Showing 32 comments

LBW on

This is so sad. How did this happen? He didn’t sound depressed to me. He sounded ready to go back to work.

Marta on

His death was unexpected and devastating. My deepest condolences to his three children and his relatives. Michael will be mourned and missed greatly. It’s a shame he was not able to perform once again. May he rest in peace and may his family find peace day by day.

Elda on

He was blown away with Talent, he will forever live in my heart. Love u Michael….

Heatherc333 on

I’m still in shock.

Gina on

Unfortunately, he was mentally and physically destroyed by an addiction to pain killers. Physical exertion added to tremendous strain on his heart.

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