nohway

QUEEN OF SOUL (AND BAD FASHION CHOICES)

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2010 at 7:29 am


Sari, wrong number!
Aretha Franklin with Angela Gheorghiu at Kennedy Center, photo by Florentina Bucos

This year’s Kennedy Center Honors was livelier than it’s been in years, testament to the fresh, thankfully hipper cultural energy engendered by the Obamas in the Big House. It was a lavishly produced, star-filled, briskly paced, consummately entertaining show that paid tribute to Dave Brubeck, Mel Brooks, Robert DeNiro, Bruce Springsteen and the great opera singer Grace Bumbry (born in St, Louis, MO), who could amusingly give even her oh-so grandiloquent Southern sister Jessye Norman (born in Augusta, GA) a run for her money in the bombastic pretension department. Once, in an interview, while describing something, the multilingual diva, who now resides in Salzburg, actually asked of her interviewer, “Como se dice ‘la porta’ en Inglese? Ah, yes, the door!”


Grace Bumbry as Carmen

Paying tribute to Bumbry, who gave a memorable NYC recital a few years ago, in which she proved that she still possessed considerable operatic chops besides singing and grooving to the funkiest rendition of “Wade in the Water” ever witnessed, was Aretha Franklin. No one will ever doubt La Franklin’s place in music history, but it should be noted that she also ranks very high in the Questionable Fashion Hall of Fame. In fact, when it comes to sheer sartorial horror, Lady Soul rarely disappoints. Obviously, she loves clothes, but the wrong ones.

Don’t get me wrong, Aretha has been a part of my life for as long as I can recall, I’ve gratefully worshipped at her shrine, SPARKLE is my all-time favorite album, and one of my prized possessions is a Kleenex she blotted her lipstick with that I stole off the set from a Phil Donahue show taping, but, to put it bluntly, an utterly exhausted Fashion Police officially retired her name long ago…


There was the hat she wore last year to Obama’s inauguration that definitely puzzled more than a few Europeans – who pretty much asked, “What’s that spaceship on her head?” – unfamiliar, as they were, with our time-honored African American tradition of churchgoing millinery


Wither the snows of yesteryear?


Greater (self) love hath no (wo)man….


Defying Gravity
with Natalie Cole at the House of Blues, LA 2008. Photo by Timothy Norris/Getty Images


Didn’t Divine wear this?
at 2008 Grammys, Getty Images


Don’t squeeze the Charmin


An unregenerate fur-lover, Aretha’s answer to her animal-loving critics at a certain event, was to simply wear another fur coat the very next day


That’s not real leopard, right? Right???


I believe it was witty Village Voice columnist Blair Sobol who coined the phrase for underarms like these: Mermans


in 1968


Even in her slimmer days, she went her own way, causing Joan Crawford to remark once, watching her on the Oscar show in the 1970s: “She’s wearing my hair from THE GORGEOUS HUSSY!”


Didn’t Nancy Reagan try this look once?


Turn the hat upside-down and it serves chips ‘n dip


For the record, she could go classic. Photographed by George Hurrell in the 1970s.

COPYRIGHT: davidnoh2010

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  1. re: ‘streetcar’ (didn’t know how else to send this to you)
    i love that ms. radziwell has the guts to bring her own cushion! i bought one (memory foam!) this year at muji in paris…..
    on another note, thank you deeply for this review. i am one of the many who love every word tennessee wrote and i lamented not being able to get a ticket. i had no trouble believing what you found lacking in the production.
    it is such a fine line, as fine as the one poor blanche crossed. i bought the j. lange dvd and tossed it across the room within moments. as much as i love ann margaret, that too… well, we will always have ‘cincinnati kid.’ thanks ever so, pal shazar

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