When Prince passed away last month at the age of 57, he didn’t just leave behind a legacy of revolutionary, groundbreaking music. He also left behind a legacy of incomparable, taboo-shattering style. When it came to fashion, The Purple One was never afraid to go big, blur gender lines or flaunt his over-the-top sexuality. He created hundreds of completely unique looks that will forever be associated with him. To pay tribute to this unforgettable icon of style, we’ve highlighted a few of his most memorable hairstyles.
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1979: Prince was still a few years away from developing his signature style at this point, but you can see early glimpses of the artist he would become on the cover of his 1979 self-titled album. The thick head of locks juxtaposed with the thin, trim mustache hints at the wild stylistic experimentations that would fuel his fashion decisions for decades to come.
1984: The release of “Purple Rain” not only ushered in some of Prince’s most memorable songs but also his most memorable look. The long, wavy, slightly unkempt curls piled high on his head mixed with the neat and trim facial hair. Throw in the signature velvet purple suit and you have the look that first jumps to everybody’s mind when they think of Prince.
1987: While Prince always seemed to be looking to the future when it came to fashion, every now and then he would throw back to an earlier era and look awesome doing it. His slicked-back hair, paired with a debonair tux, offered his fans a little bit of old Hollywood style when he attended the 14th annual American Music Awards in 1987.
1989: The Batdance, recorded for the release of 1989’s “Batman,” was one of Prince’s goofier efforts, but you’ve got to love his style in the music video for it. One half of his face is painted white, along with a shock of bright green hair. Today it’s obvious to anyone watching that Prince was mashing up the looks of two of Batman’s most infamous villains: The Joker and Two-Face. But this was the late ‘80s, well before America’s great geek renaissance. Prince made nerdiness cool way before anyone else.
1990: “Graffiti Bridge,” the sequel to “Purple Rain,” didn’t have the cultural impact of its predecessor, but it did have a huge impact on the future of Prince’s hair. This was the first time we saw him straighten his locks into a long, flowing, slightly feminine do. As the ‘90s pressed on, this type of gender experimentation would become more and more common in Prince’s looks.
1994: This year began the seven-year stretch where Prince changed his name to a combination of the symbols for male and female. Fittingly, his style really started to bounce back and forth between masculine and feminine at this time. This look from the cover of a 1994 VIBE nicely encapsulates this era. Prince uses an ultra-thin beard to accentuate his cheekbones and give himself a slightly drag-ish appearance.
1999: Prince went blue for the cover of his 1999 album “Rave Unto the Joy Fantastic,” donning a bright blue plastic jumpsuit. To complement the outfit choice, he dyed a few stray dreads blue against a traditionally slicked-back hair. The look was part past, part future and totally cool.
2004: When Prince performed with Beyonce at the 2004 Grammy Awards, he reprised a classic look with a slight update for the new millennium. His wavy curls, piled high on his head, recalled the cover of “Purple Rain.” The purple and gold suit he wore completed the homage, looking like a slightly more upscale version of the suit he wore on the cover of that classic album.