Why Prince was a true style orig­i­nal

Sunday Express - - BEAUTY AND FASHION -

WITH the heart­break­ing news that Prince passed away on Thurs­day at age 57, so goes an un­par­al­leled breadth of style. Chal­leng­ing and stretch­ing the bound­aries of mas­culin­ity, sex, race, and rock ’n’ roll with his fan­tas­ti­cal and gen­der-bend­ing on­stage cos­tumes, the fop­pish Min­nesota na­tive pulled from a con­sor­tium of ref­er­ences that in­cluded Vic­to­rian peas­ant blouses, se­quins, and a seem­ingly bot­tom­less pool of pur­ple, to cull a dis­tinct rock god look.

The legacy he leaves be­hind knows no bounds, ei­ther: His in­flu­ence is ev­i­dent on the run­way and on the stage, no­tably on black male mu­si­cal ec­centrics like Miguel and Kanye West, to this day — and un­doubt­edly it will en­dure long af­ter the Pur­ple One him­self.

There were those sig­na­ture flares that flowed about as the mu­si­cal ge­nius slashed across the strings of his sculp­tural guitar with ex­pert pre­ci­sion.

The clack of his heeled booties kept to the beat of his end­less an­thol­ogy of hits.

Shirt­less and sheathed in a pair of high-waist nar­row trousers, Prince crooned, screeched, and bel­lowed out his sexy and hyp­notic lyrics.

Adorned in se­quined jump­suits and twirling about with fi­nesse akin to some of his own heroes, James Brown and Lit­tle Richard among them, the seem­ingly age­less singer out­per­formed mu­si­cians half his age with in­com­pa­ra­ble flair.

There was no fash­ion risk he was un­will­ing to make, whether don­ning a hat with chains cov­er­ing his face as he took the stage or wear­ing even full-on fringed pants . . . pre-Bal­main, of course.

He switched up his trade­mark perm for the bouncy throw­back ’ fro he had been sport­ing just as re­cently as his ap­pear­ance at 2015’s Grammy Awards.

There’s a mo­ment in the video When Doves Cry video in which we see Prince in the bath­tub shirt­less.

He’s look­ing di­rectly into the cam­era as he gets out of the tub, and he ex­tends his hand to­ward the viewer.

It wasn’t the first time any­one had seen Prince’s nude torso; he was top­less on his first al­bum cover and had al­ready been wear­ing shirts that opened down to his waist for years.

But some­thing about that mo­ment, with his with beau­ti­fully lined eyes look- ing back in a pen­e­trat­ing stare and a per­fectly coiffed head of curls, that man­ages to feel both vul­ner­a­ble and slickly styled. He’s mas­cu­line but doesn’t shy away from fem­i­nine em­bel­lish­ments. That mix is what made him a sexy MF-er.

Prince was only 5-foot-2. He wore high heels. The thing that could bring on a life­long neu­ro­sis for the av­er­age man was noth­ing for this sex god. It prob­a­bly didn’t even oc­cur to him and cer­tainly didn’t oc­cur to the le­gions of fe­male fans who were all too happy to have their idea about what was sexy turned on its head by Prince.

His gen­der-fluid look, de­vel­oped through the eras of disco and new wave, em­braced some­thing many male pop icons tried their hand at, but few came any­where close to walk­ing the line of ex­plo­sive sex­u­al­ity that Prince lived astride.

Un­like many of his con­tem­po­raries, his eye­liner, blush, and pen­chant for pur­ple didn’t make him less dan­ger­ous or a dandy. He never lost his edge; he al­ways oozed sex.

That’s at least partly due to his songs, how num­bers like “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” “Dar­ling Nikki,” “Kiss,” and “Jack U Off” re­ally didn’t shy away from talk­ing about sex and re­la­tion­ships in the most ex­plicit terms.

But he wasn’t two-di­men­sional about those things ei­ther, mak­ing our hearts break with emo­tional songs like “When Doves Cry,” “I Would Die 4 U,” and “Lit­tle Red Corvette.”

He could per­form in a bikini bot­tom and high-heeled boots, he could show us his per­fect butt, and he could wink at us through his per­fectly ap­plied mas­cara — and never lose an ounce of charisma.

And then there was the way he danced: ef­fort­lessly. And the way he played guitar: or­gas­mi­cally.

His pres­ence on­stage made us scream and dream of rip­ping off his clothes and smudg­ing his per­fectly ap­plied eye­liner.

That beauty mark he col­ored in was an ob­ject of fan­tasy all on its own. His af­fec­ta­tions were unique to him — no other male pop star ever tried to be like Prince be­cause there was no be­ing like Prince.

His beauty, his sex ap­peal, and his ge­nius were one of a kind, in­ter­twined, and flouted the idea of tra­di­tional mas­cu­line ap­peal.

By pure force of will, his aes­thetic taught many of us to em­brace and love the fem­i­nine yang to the male yin. — Vogue

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