The towering beehives. The sultry stare shaded by Lancôme ad-worthy lashes. That unmistakable smoky-soprano croon. Before there was Whitney, Mariah and Beyoncé, there was Diana Ross—the diva who launched a thousand…well, divas.
The former Supremes front-woman and IRL Dreamgirl turns 70 today, so what better occasion to while away an afternoon clicking through photos of her nostalgia-soaked wardrobe? (Might as well follow up with a another dose of daughter Tracee Ellis Ross’ after—the hot-pink Mugler blazer doesn’t fall far from the tree.)
Ross’ megawatt Motown aesthetic made as strong of a statement as her music—think original disco fever meets the American Hustle costume department. Fur, velvet, feathers and kaleidoscopic colors, all piled high with jewels—Ross’ is a kind of calculated, trend-transcendent glamour (she majored in fashion design pre-Supremes as a teenager in Detroit).
Then there was the “Baby Love” phase—also known as the moment when enveloping the all three Supremes in layers of tulle, floor-grazing maxis and ruffles galore was au courant.
And then, there’s the bedazzling. Oh, the bedazzling. Remember Ross glittering like a Twilight vampire-in-the-sun in her infamous rhinestone-encrusted nude bodysuit on the cover of her Everything is Everything album? You know, the one that inspired Britney’s “Toxic” look? (Ross did it first, y’all.) Or this one, presumably inspired by wedding cakes and mermaids. Ross is one of those rare breeds whose closet seems to contain nothing but red-carpet gowns, floor-sweeping furs, and bling—requisite Divattire.
“With the Supremes I made so much money so fast all I wanted to do was buy clothes and pretty things,” Ross* told People Magazine in 1976. “Now I'm comfortable with money and it's comfortable with me.”
We can totally sympathize with the pretty things problem. At least it was for a good cause—kick-starting a killer wardrobe, that is.
*Fun fact: Her name is actually Diane. Diana came from a high-school yearbook clerical error and she ended up liking it better than her given name. Diva’s gonna do what a diva’s gonna do, right?