**Prince had multitude alias, including: Alexander Nevermind, Jamie Starr, Joey Coco and The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. I will be referring to Prince as all of them in this article.**
The death of Prince was not only the end of a creative genius but also the passing of a true style icon. Prince was a member of the beau monde without even trying. He didn’t have to partner with designers, consistently post his outfits, or be layered in luxury fashion to make a statement or change the way we view clothing and style.
Alexander Nevermind was unapologetic about his visions. His creativity preceded its time. His signature color was purple. Prior to releasing Purple Rain, he had five albums, all which subtly gave love to his favorite color…or maybe an experience? When Purple Rain was released, Prince was heavily consumed with the idea of the apocalypse. He explained,
“When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple… purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/God guide you through the purple rain.”
Purple Rain further solidified Jamie Starr’s reign on pop music and culture that is still heavily felt and seen today. He released Purple Rain in 1984 and it made over $68M (and cost a little over $7M). Did we really think a visual album like Lemonade was all Beyonce and no influence? He defied the social constraints of the fashion industry: from his eyeliner to wearing heels unashamed, Prince paved the way in the public eye for the absence of gender in fashion. Without Prince, we would have never seen Jayden Smith challenge heteronormativity and become the face of Louis Vuitton’s womenswear campaign. Without Prince, Omar Epps would not have been so confident in wearing a leather skirt over jeans on the view.
However, while both Jayden Smith and Omar Epps received much public flack, no one dared challenge Prince, his sexuality, or what it all meant. Prince isn’t male, female, or trans….he’s a Prince. >>insert Prince symbol here<<
She said, “Are you gay?”
Kinda took me by surprise, I didn’t know what to do,
I just looked her in her eyes and I said, “No, are you?”
~ Prince, “Uptown,” 1980
While fashion houses have been capitalizing off gender neutral and androgynous trends, until celebrities like Jayden Smith and Laverne Cox, it hasn’t really been seen on Black bodies. But what about Prince? No, Joey Coco did not dress “androgynously,” he dressed above the constraints and boxes of expectations placed on gender from the day we were born. He lived, created and worked confidently in his idiosyncracies and that genuine freedom is what earned him the respect, adoration, and no questions from all. Alexander Nevermind wasn’t figuring himself out. He knew (and was assured in) who he was even if the public did not. Prince, through his life and being, strived to help us navigate through the winding maze of identity (how we view ourselves), behavior (what we do), and perception (how we are viewed by others).
And that, ladies and gentleman, in the age where we throw the words “style icon” around so carelessly, is an example of a TRUE fashion icon whose influence will be felt for years to come and live on through creatives living and yet born.
RIP to the Purple One.