Prince's Purple Reign of Style
Prince Rogers Nelson was the son of a musician and a jazz singer. He was an extremely talented and self-taught musician known for writing a discography of iconic songs, including, "Purple Rain" and "Diamonds and Pearls". Not many are aware that he also wrote songs made famous by others, such as "Nothing Compares 2 U", "Manic Monday" and "Sugar Walls". Some of these hits were written under pseudonyms, such as "Christopher" and "Alexander Nevermind" because he was not concerned with feeding his ego and claiming credit for the songs.
His sound and his style were both unique. In the 1970s, he had an afro to be envious of, and then into the early 80s, he went minimalistic in brief (literally) underwear. Shortly after this, he developed the ruffled bloused, big-haired, pink feather boa, lace-gloved look with eyeliner that we all know and love. As if this was not enough, he would accessorize with a string of pearls over one shoulder or a gemstone-studded bandana. In the early nineties, he caused a sensation with a pair of cheeky chaps, before taming his hair into a sleek, straight do, but certainly did not tame down his outfits, appearing in tasseled and fringed ensembles, as well as deep V-necked outfits that revealed his super-toned abdomen and "Love Symbol # 2" pendant. Like his wardrobe, Prince experimented with all kinds of jewelry; stud earrings, hoop earrings, rings, necklaces and more. Into the millennium, he embraced Jimi Hendrix chic, allowing his hair to grow freely once again. He wore more comfortable looking clothes, but accessorized in his own special way, with a bejeweled scepter and "3rd Eye" shades.
Perhaps his eclectic style and androgynous, multicultural nature is what appeals to so many of his fans, male and female; black and white; and from East to West. The lyrics of his 1981 song, "Controversy" address others' intentions to define him and his exasperation with such limiting boundaries. A person who could not be clearly defined or pigeon-holed, with regard to style and music, he felt limited by his contract with Warner Bros., causing him to rebel and perform with the word "Slave" written on his face. In 1993, he changed his stage name to a symbol known as "Love Symbol # 2" and became known as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince" until after the end of his contract. In "I Would Die 4 U", he sang, "I'm not a woman. I'm not a man. I am something that you'll never understand." These words may have referred to himself or Jesus Christ, but they also provided comfort to those who felt marginalized, such as the LGBT community and those suffering from disabilities.
It is not possible to mention Prince without referring to the color purple, which he used lavishly. In fact, it is said that he made some purple refurbishments to a rented house without the landlord's permission. However, without being asked, he provided a handsome reimbursement for changes made to the property. Purple has royal connotations, so it ties in perfectly with his onstage persona. Furthermore, for an androgynous style icon who blends masculine with feminine, purple is the perfect color, since it is a combination of red or bright pink and blue. Prince's penchant for expressing his feminine side could be seen in his fashion choices and in his personal "Love Symbol # 2", which was an amalgamation of the male and female symbols. He incorporated this symbol into jewelry and a purple guitar was even made in its form. His first wife, Mayte Garcia held a pendant of this symbol at their wedding on Valentine's Day in 1996. Sadly, their marriage did not last, and it is said that the loss of children led to the breakdown of their relationship. Prince's second wife, Manuela Testolini met the star through his charitable work. They were married from 2001 until 2006. Despite her filing for divorce, the couple remained friends and she intends to build a school in his honor.
Despite his small stature, according to a story told by Charles Murphy, Prince was known to be an excellent basketball player. In fact, he had a number of surprising talents, such as roller-skating, pancake-making, film-directing and the ability to play any musical instrument well. His album, "For You" featured Prince playing 27 different musical instruments. From oversized rings and chains to ear cuffs, Prince was no shrinking violet. In fact, he was a purple paragon of androgyny. He would wear chains not only around his neck, but also around his waist, thighs and crotch. He even sported chains over his face once. It is said that Prince was rather fond of bling, and according to Ben Baller, he once wore a several million dollar diamond tank top while baking cookies for guests.
When discussing age, Prince said, "I don't believe in age. When you wake up each day looks the same, so each day should be a new beginning. I don't have an expiration date." Another quote reports that "Life is just a party and parties weren't meant to last." Sadly, his personal party ended in April 2016. While he may have physically expired, his legacy never will; his style and music live on.
- First Published: April-27-2016
- Last Updated: March-29-2017
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