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PunkFunkRockPop: The Minneapolis Music Collection

Prince's Purple Rain Costume

Prince's Purple Rain Costume
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Like his music, Prince's costume from his 1984 film Purple Rain is a synthesis of various periods and styles. The ensemble's ruffled, high-collared shirt wouldn't look out of place on the cover of a Regency romance, while the asymmetry favored in early 1908s design is evident in the faux-mail ornamentation on the coat's right shoulder and the pants' diagonal fly, secured with large white buttons so there's no way to miss it. The faux-mail also suggested the masculine-or-feminine, straight-or-gay ambiguities that Prince sought to project. The deep vent at the back of the eye-catching purple trench coat accommodated the energetic spins and splits so typical of Prince's choreography.

Louis Well and Terry Vaughn, African Americans who had designed stage costumes for the R&B/funk/pop supergroup Earth, Wind and Fire, set up a sewing room in the St. Louis Park warehouse where planning for Purple Rain was underway. Frenchwoman marie France assisted with the costume design.