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Glamour Gals

Divas push the envelope in terms of fashion, behavior and attitude. Maybe that’s why we can’t get enough of them. Here, some women who radiate star power.<br><br>MADONNA: She continually reinvents herself and always manages to amuse, turn...

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Divas push the envelope in terms of fashion, behavior and attitude. Maybe that’s why we can’t get enough of them. Here, some women who radiate star power.

MADONNA: She continually reinvents herself and always manages to amuse, turn on and shock her fans — whether she’s wearing a Gucci torpedo bra or a demure suit from Chanel or Dolce & Gabbana. Claiming to be bewildered by the celebratory response to some of her earlier looks, Madonna in 2000 told WWD: “When I look back at the way I dressed, I think I look part vagabond and part ragamuffin. I’ve spent the past 10 years being slightly embarrassed by it.” Doubtful.

STEVIE NICKS: From Fleetwood Mac to her synth pop solo days, no one’s onstage wardrobe took on more of a life than Nicks, moving seamlessly through each performance. Her indelible stamp: an old English school hat, feathers and vintage lace; long flowing dresses in layers of chiffon; diaphanous blouses and stiletto heel platform boots. Her style reflects her nature: romantic, full of wonder for all things mystical and charmed by her own guardian angel. Her clothes have always telegraphed this spirit, making her a muse of fans and designers for decades. Each season, the latest “Stevie Nicks” incarnations come down the runway, recalling her uniquely sensual and mysterious signature.

DONNA SUMMER: Unapologetic about being labeled “America’s Queen of Sex Rock,” Summers more than earned that image onstage. In 1979, on the cover of her album “Bad Girls,” Disco Donna was dressed as a hooker trying to get $50 from a john. She went on to make an 18-minute ode to oral sex. But Summer insists during a 1979 interview that she tired of “the sex image very early.” In fact, even in the Seventies, she had already become interested in founding a music school for children and stressed the importance of family and a normal childhood for her young daughter, who now is 30 years old.

PATTI LABELLE: “I began my career convinced that if people looked at us first, they’d listen and find out that we had a whole lot to say,” said Labelle, referring to her outrageous neon space suits. “Now I want to be the 58-year-old mother I am. But classy and cool. I’m not a hip-hop queen, and I don’t need the shock value onstage.” The singer’s stylists are Tamika Foster and Todd Hanshaw, the latter of whom she found working in a Marc Jacobs store five years ago. “I like everyday clothes onstage in unique fabrics…peasant blouses, straight pants and short skirts,” Labelle said. The performer’s one concession to over-the-top? A pair of Dolce & Gabbana’s six-inch heels — one of her 300 pairs of shoes.

TINA TURNER: Those legs. What designer wouldn’t want to dress that fierce body with steamy, tush-high dresses. Fishnet stockings and stilettos are zip next to Turner’s lioness energy and endless expanse of legs, neither of which has diminished one bit. Less than two years ago, at age 61, Turner astounded a Canadian audience by donning a skintight black leather cropped jumpsuit.

CHER: In 1967, Cher burst on the scene as a hippie singer in bell-bottoms and fur vests, silver robes and silver boots — clothes she dreamed up and made herself. Call it taste or envy, even her fans often ridiculed her gussied-up, sometimes shocking clothes, which she wore both onstage and off.

Nonetheless, when it comes to cosmetic restoration, there is no finer muse than Cher.

One of the most memorable odes to this legend was Tom Ford’s 1999 spring collection, for which Cher, at her classiest, was the inspiration. Ford showed sleek, rich hippie looks like fringed skirts, T-shirts and loose hipster trousers, all worn on models with center-parted long straight hair. And, Ford was even generous enough to end the show with beaded and fringed dresses, evoking the spirit of Cher’s longtime favorite designer, Bob Mackie. It is Mackie’s costumes that she is wearing on tour this summer.

ARETHA FRANKLIN: The Queen of Soul is bigger than life, with a history of glitz and glamour onstage and a passion for fashion that, as early as the late Eighties, ranged from Bill Blass clothes, Chanel shoes or a navy suit from Donna Karan offstage, to a sequined Halston jumpsuit for her performance at City Center in New York. “Liza Minnelli had the same suit,” Franklin told Hal Rubinstein during a 1985 interview for Interview magazine. “I also notice Diana [Ross] and I like the same designers, being Aries,” she added. As much as she loved designer clothes, she had an alternative in mind: “Get ready,” she told Rubenstein, “because I’m going to wear some of my own designs when I tour. Tell W to make some space for moi.”

DIANA ROSS: During Ross’ years with the Supremes, she was one of three — nonetheless the star. But it was when she went solo, particularly in the late Seventies as a dolled-up Disco Diva, that she soared into her singular spotlight. “I know every designer — it’s my business,” Ross told W, WWD’s sister publication, in 1984. With her finger on the pulse, she chose Stephen Sprouse for the cover of her album that year, “Swept Away,” and the famed hairstylist, Suga, to do her hair. “I did all the clothes for this show, and they were made by Bob Mackie,” she noted, referring to a performance at Radio City Music Hall. Ross, who’s at home in a Galanos, is as chic and elegant offstage as she is flamboyant on. She often spoke of designing her own collection but felt “it must be done right.” The performer’s ever-moving image has always evoked a most extravagant vision in both gestures and style: a chameleon collection of wigs, miniskirts and long coats, bell-bottoms, sensually beaded second-skin gowns — and never forget those furs and sky-high feathers.

MARIANNE FAITHFULL: Her early loyalty to Londoners like Ossie Clark and Vivienne Westwood expanded to include an allegiance to America. “Marc Jacobs’ style really suits me,” she said in an interview. “Calvin [Klein] told me that people should not even really notice what I’m wearing; rather they should be looking at my face, hands and body.” Accordingly, Faithfull still fancies trousers, high heels and, mostly, lean clothes. Citing Jacobs, Klein, Narciso Rodriguez and Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld, the singer said, “I have expensive tastes but can’t afford the clothes I like, so I have to depend on their kindness. I wouldn’t know what to do without their help and advice.”

DEBBIE HARRY: She personified an astounding mix of Hollywood glamour with the decadent sophistication of Andy Warhol and Studio 54. To those, she added plenty of punk. In fact, Harry’s been described as “punk Garbo,” although her Fifties downbeat clothes, brassy blonde hair and a casual wholesomeness always made categorizing her a challenge. Other than Harry’s well-documented indifference to underwear, her style both onstage and off showed more restraint and innate good taste than most of her peers ever exhibited. Now in her late fifties, Harry has taken the best of the mix into the 21st century. For her recent American tour, Harry wore a more mature and modernized version of that new wave-punk image that always charmed her audience.

PATTI SMITH: She added her promising music to the rock field that began with Janis Joplin and Tina Turner. At 27, she wanted to grow into that smoldering appeal of Jeanne Moreau, wearing a black slip and smoking a cigarette. “I’ll work on that when I get older,” she told Earl Wilson of the New York Post in 1975. Meanwhile, she added, “I watch Muhammad Ali to acquire bravado. I learned casualness from Perry Como; corniness from Johnny Carson.”

But, in fact, she is more recognized and celebrated for her edge, androgyny and punk sexiness. These were standard fare at New York’s infamous Chelsea Hotel, where she lived and hung with Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix. At the roughest edge of the fashion spectrum, Smith’s messy, hip style mirrored her own contradictions: girlish and masculine; tough and fragile; Christian and obscene. Dressing in zipper-splashed skintight pants, thrift-shop reject jackets, black leather boxing shoes and Armani shirts, she saw herself as “one of the best-dressed bodies in rock.” She turned away from rock ’n’ roll in the late Seventies, and moved toward quieter art forms, but now the feminist muse is performing again with the same strong, effortless style.

MARIANNE FAITHFULL: Her early loyalty to Londoners like Ossie Clark and Vivienne Westwood expanded to include an allegiance to America. “Marc Jacobs’ style really suits me,” she said in an interview. “Calvin [Klein] told me that people should not even really notice what I’m wearing; rather they should be looking at my face, hands and body.” Accordingly, Faithfull still fancies trousers, high heels and, mostly, lean clothes. Citing Jacobs, Klein, Narciso Rodriguez and Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld, the singer said, “I have expensive tastes but can’t afford the clothes I like, so I have to depend on their kindness. I wouldn’t know what to do without their help and advice.”

DEBBIE HARRY: She personified an astounding mix of Hollywood glamour with the decadent sophistication of Andy Warhol and Studio 54. To those, she added plenty of punk. In fact, Harry’s been described as “punk Garbo,” although her Fifties downbeat clothes, brassy blonde hair and a casual wholesomeness always made categorizing her a challenge. Other than Harry’s well-documented indifference to underwear, her style both onstage and off showed more restraint and innate good taste than most of her peers ever exhibited. Now in her late fifties, Harry has taken the best of the mix into the 21st century. For her recent American tour, Harry wore a more mature and modernized version of that new wave-punk image that always charmed her audience.

PATTI SMITH: She added her promising music to the rock field that began with Janis Joplin and Tina Turner. At 27, she wanted to grow into that smoldering appeal of Jeanne Moreau, wearing a black slip and smoking a cigarette. “I’ll work on that when I get older,” she told Earl Wilson of the New York Post in 1975. Meanwhile, she added, “I watch Muhammad Ali to acquire bravado. I learned casualness from Perry Como; corniness from Johnny Carson.”

But, in fact, she is more recognized and celebrated for her edge, androgyny and punk sexiness. These were standard fare at New York’s infamous Chelsea Hotel, where she lived and hung with Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix. At the roughest edge of the fashion spectrum, Smith’s messy, hip style mirrored her own contradictions: girlish and masculine; tough and fragile; Christian and obscene. Dressing in zipper-splashed skintight pants, thrift-shop reject jackets, black leather boxing shoes and Armani shirts, she saw herself as “one of the best-dressed bodies in rock.” She turned away from rock ’n’ roll in the late Seventies, and moved toward quieter art forms, but now the feminist muse is performing again with the same strong, effortless style.

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