I’ll let you in on a secret about living music legend, Diana Ross. When she was a little girl, long before she found her voice, this living legend, and music and fashion icon, wanted to become a fashion designer. In her teens, Diana Ross studied design, millinery, and pattern-making at Cass Technical High School, and she worked at Hudson Department Store until she graduated from school in 1962. By that time, she was singing with the Supremes, and the rest is music history.
Ms. Ross’ impact on fashion history is also quite significant. In fact, if you take a peak at the credits for Mahogany, one of the fashion industry’s most beloved movies, you’ll find Diana Ross listed not only as the star of the film, she is also credited for costume design.
As the ultimate example of life imitating art, Ross played a fashion designer, and she designed the costumes she wore as the star of the film. Her furs were to die for, but her wide brimmed felt hat launched a time-tested trend.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, music and fashion trend-setter, Jennifer Lopez, flattered Diana Ross when she borrowed her Mahogany style to create her “Jenny From The Block” signature look.
In homage to one of her favorite fashion designers, Diana Ross turned to French fashion designer, Erte, for inspiration for several Mahogany costumes. At the height of his success during the Art Deco era in the 1920’s, Erte designed costumes for yet another musical legend and style icon, Miss Josephine Baker. Which comes first, the song or the costume? When they’re writing or recording a new song, do original divas like Diana Ross and Josephine Baker visualize themselves performing in costume? Looking at these amazing creations will make you wonder.
I wouldn’t be doing Diana Ross justice if I didn’t recognize the perfect afro she wore during the Black Power movement. Or her amazing lady-like style. Of course this icon cannot be copied. Art continued to imitate life when Diana played Josephine Baker on Broadway.
We are blessed to have experienced the talented Diana Ross and Josephine Baker, African-American legends, with timeless musical style.