Aretha Franklin Through The Years

Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soulful style

With a career spanning six decades, Aretha Franklin -- the Queen of Soul -- saw her share of fashion trends. 

From her empire waist dresses and bouffant hair in the 1960s when her career first started, to the gray felt hat at the 2009 presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, Franklin has made an important mark on the fashion world

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In a 2003 interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Franklin shared that her friend, the late singer Luther Vandross had designed two of the gowns on her tour. 

“Oh, Luther is an absolutely fabulous designer! He designs all of his singers' gowns. When I was admiring theirs, he said he would design some for me. And believe me, he is as good with that as he is with his voice. So you know it's the bomb,” Franklin said.

Here is a look at some of her rock steady fashion choices.

1960’s style: Franklin’s early looks included bouffant style hair and empire waist gowns.

Crochet: By the mid-70’s, Franklin was rocking out hippie style in a pantsuit with a crochet poncho, as she did during a 1976 appearance on Soul Train. 

Furs: Franklin loved a good fur -- from cropped to full-length -- in a range of colors and styles, like the white fur jacket she wore over her gown at the 1990 Grammy Awards. 

Aretha Franklin holding her award in Press Room at 1990 Grammy Awards. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Photo: Time Life Pictures/The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett

Fishtails and turbans: In 2008, Franklin wore this black beaded and tulle fishtail style gown with a black turban when she was honored as MusiCares person of the year in Los Angeles, California.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Singer Aretha Franklin arrives at the 2008 MusiCares person of the year honoring Aretha Franklin held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on February 8, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Pearls: Franklin often accessorized her outfits with a single strand of pearls as she did during a 2012 performance in Atlanta. 

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 05: The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin performs at The Fox Theatre on March 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for The Fox Theatre)
Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for The Fox Theatre

The other lemonade: Franklin knew the power of a yellow dress long before Beyonce. She wore this lemony number to the 30th Annual Kennedy Center Honors in 2007.

WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 2: Singer Aretha Franklin arrives at the 30th Annual Kennedy Center Honors December 2, 2007 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Nancy Ostertag/Getty Images)
Photo: Nancy Ostertag/Getty Images

Shimmer and shine: Franklin often chose to wear sequins and iridescent fabrics which she sometimes paired with feather wraps and boas. She is pictured here in 2010 during her induction into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame.

NEW YORK - JUNE 14: Singer Aretha Franklin performs after she was inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame at the 2010 Apollo Theater Spring Benefit Concert & Awards Ceremony at The Apollo Theater on June 14, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images

All in the hat: Franklin wore lots of hats but this one threatened to upstage the President. When Franklin wore a gray felt cloche adorned with a bow and rhinestones by Detroit-based milliner, Luke Song, it received the ultimate respect -- a place in the Smithsonian. It will reportedly end up in the Barack Obama Presidential Library upon its completion in 2021. 

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 20: Aretha Franklin sings during the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America on the West Front of the Capitol January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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