Aretha Franklin has died on Thursday at her home in Detroit, she was 76 years old. The prolific singer’s career spans over six decades, rightfully earning her the title “Queen of Soul.” Although music may be her centerpiece, Franklin’s fashion and beauty looks can be heralded as equally iconic.
Franklin’s style was extravagant, lavish, and befitting of a superstar. Although one of Franklin’s sartorial choices may not be as popular today — she loved wearing fur. She often wore luxurious fur coats on and off the stage, with intricately embroidered dresses threaded with beads and feathers. Franklin had a penchant for regal jewelry, too: statement jewel earrings, emerald rings, and pearl necklaces.
The “Natural Woman” singer was unafraid of bold, bright colors, loud, statement prints, and elaborate hair and makeup looks. In the ‘60s, Franklin often wore beehive hairdos and glossy, nude lips with maxi-length embroidered dresses and caftans. During the ‘70s, she embraced the era’s “flower power” aesthetic, on one occasion in 1975 wearing a dress with an oversized floral print and feathers stitched along the collar and trim. Franklin also sported well-coiffed Afros and neat cornrows.
In the ’80s, Franklin saturated her wardrobe with ruffles, tulle and metallics. Maximalism was Franklin’s go-to — and she paired it with glaring haircuts. In the ’90s, she often wore gowns by fashion designer Arnold Scaasi, the same designer who has dressed American First Ladies Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush, and Mamie Eisenhower. In the aughts, Franklin continued to flaunt her figure and wear glamorous gowns that hugged her curves, rocking them with shoulder-skimming hairstyles before settling into her most recent pixie cut.
From her 20s to her 70s, Franklin’s style epitomized her extraordinary talent. She embraced old Hollywood glamour, wearing Oscar-worthy red-carpet gowns that shimmered, and shined on and off stage. More was always better with this diva.
Having started her musical career at a time when there wasn’t as much widely-reported scrutiny of a woman’s appearance as it today (think entertainers like Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, or Jennifer Lopez), Franklin freely and effortlessly experimented with just about every beauty trend.
Throughout her 76 years, the “Queen of Soul” has been a force to be reckoned with, earning a myriad of accolades that musicians only dream of. In 1967 at just 25, she released her hit song, “Respect,” which quickly skyrocketed to the top of the music charts. In subsequent years, Franklin continued to produce hit songs such as “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Baby I Love You,” and “Chain of Fools,” which helped define her generation, known as the “Golden Age of Soul.”
In 1987, Franklin became the first woman to ever be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In 1994, she became the youngest recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors at 52 years old. That same year, she received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2005, she was selected as one of 14 recipients for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Throughout her decades-long career, the Detroit-born artist has earned 44 Grammy nominations and won 18 of them.
To say Aretha Franklin is a legend is an understatement.
Ahead, go back in time to see Aretha Franklin’s most iconic fashion and beauty looks.
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