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After suffering from flu-like symptoms for several weeks, legendary musician and style icon Prince passed away in his home on Thursday morning.
Though he will be dearly missed, the sequined paisley jumpsuit-loving pop star leaves behind an incredible musical legacy. Over the course of his prolific career, he sold over 100 million records, won an Academy Award, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However, while the pop star's countless accolades are impressive, he will truly be remembered for the haters-be-damned confidence he embodied, and how that enabled him to become a style visionary.
By refusing to ever explicitly identify as masculine or feminine, Prince never allowed gender expectations dictate any facet of his life. From his flamboyant fashion choices and erotic dance moves to his relationships with others and the public, Prince just did Prince, and he empowered so many others after him to do the same.
As a tribute, here's a commemorative look back at a few stories that highlight the ways Prince challenged traditional gender roles through his personal style.
On his refusal to tone himself down, despite backlash from others, from the New York Times in 1981:
The suggestions of androgyny in his fluid body movements and flamboyantly minimal stage costume were more than a little reminiscent of some of Mick Jagger's early performances, but the almost entirely white Stones audience apparently failed to make the connection. They pelted Prince with fruit and bottles, causing him to cut his sets short.
On his ability to transcend racial as well as gender stereotypes, from the same interview:
The fact that Prince can do everything makes him one of the most impressive new pop talents of the past few years. It's also the secret behind his apparently effortless fusion of black and white pop styles. The music transcends racial stereotyping precisely because it's almost all Prince; Prince himself transcends racial stereotyping because, as he once put it, ''I never grew up in one particular culture.'' One suspects that as time goes on, more and more American pop will reflect a similarly biracial orientation. If that's so, Prince's black-white synthesis isn't just a picture of what could be, it's a prophecy.
On the real reason he wore heels, from Rolling Stone in 1985:
The phone rings, and Prince picks it up in the kitchen. "We'll be there in twenty minutes," he says, hanging up. Heading downstairs, Prince swivels his head and smiles. "Just gonna change clothes." He comes back a couple minutes later wearing another paisley jump suit, "the only kind of clothes I own." And the boots? "People say I'm always wearing heels cuz I'm short," he says, laughing. "I wear heels because the women like 'em."
On Prince's powerful, siren-esque sexuality, from Harper's in 2012:
Jamie Foxx, dressed in a blue shirt with a satin sheen and dark trousers, traverses the stage, a pin spot following him as he follows his thoughts. "I’m not no fag," he continues, almost bashfully. "But uh. I mean, he’s cute, he pretty . . . I just ain’t never seen no man that look like that. Just dainty and shit." Beat. Hangdog expression. "I couldn’t look at him in his eyes." Because "this little pretty bitch . . . came out with a little ice-skating outfit on, you know? With the boots sewn into the shit. And I’m like, That’s nice . . . I’m not gay. I’m just saying that’s nice."
Frank Ocean on how Prince carved a path for others to follow, and helped people understand and accept themselves:
He learned early on how little value to assign to someone else's opinion of you.. an infectious sentiment that seemed soaked into his clothes, his hair, his walk, his guitar, and his primal scream. [...] He was a straight black man who played his first televised set in bikini bottoms and knee high heeled boots, epic. He made me feel more comfortable with how I identify sexually simply by his display of freedom from and irreverence for obviously archaic ideas like gender conformity.
Baby, you're a truly a star now. Thank you for everything.