25 May 2023

Simply the Best of Tina Turner’s pioneering looks from her nearly seven-decade career

From fiery frocks to leather minis, we trace back through some of the late star’s most iconic outfits.

The entertainment world is mourning the loss of music icon Tina Turner today, who passed away at 82 on Wednesday in her home in Zurich, Switzerland following a long battle with an unspecified illness. The ‘Proud Mary’ singer’s influence on music is unparalleled, with her unforgettable performances and powerhouse vocals paving the way for today’s industry stars. Her impact went far beyond her music, as the first Black artist and woman to be on the cover of Rolling Stone’s 1967 issue, and picking up a whopping 12 Grammy Awards along the way. 

Her personal life was tumultuous, however, and her relationship with Ike Turner (her husband and on-stage partner) was destructive. She eventually left the relationship in 1977 and started her solo career, which entirely redefined her image and stage presence. Turner even had a successful musical created about her, Tina, based on her life, that traces her humble beginnings in Tennessee to the star she eventually became on the big screen. 

She influenced stars like Beyoncé and Rihanna, who echo her sound and style in their own performances and careers. Known for her energetic dance moves, Turner often donned uber-miniskirts and dresses with fringes and sequins to showcase her legs, a pair which were also once insured for $3.2 million. At the ‘08 Grammys, at the age of 67, she even gave Beyoncé a run for her money in a figure-hugging silver jumpsuit when she performed alongside her. But her fashion looks weren’t just exclusive to the stage, and Turner worked with designers like Bob Mackie, Gianni Versace, and Azzedine Alaïa to create some of her most prolific looks. 

Here, we pay tribute to the star Tina Turner by tracing back through some of her best fashion moments over her nearly seven-decade career…

The Pearl Bailey Show, 1971

Gracing the screens on the American variety show, she performed for the entertainer, singer, and actress Pearl Bailey in a fringe white mini-dress – pre-iconic voluminous Turner ‘do. The star opted for a bedazzled silver bralette with hanging jewels, and an ivory skirt cut into a geometric triangle shape. Of course, the legs were on full show and Turner accessorised with a silver pendant and matching pair of Mary Janes (with a small heel appropriate enough for her to move and shake to).

The Cher Show with Cher, 1975

The Goddess of Pop and the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll paired up for Cher’s own show in 1975, resulting in a slew of glitzy tunes and performances that were watched for years after their initial release. Both artists were pioneers in displaying female autonomy in a male-dominated industry, and it was their performance of ‘Shame, Shame, Shame’ that saw the two wear matching dresses with long flowing tassels attached. High-neck halter style, Cher opted for pink stripes whilst Turner went for blue, covered in jewels that sparkled in the stage lights as the two danced along the stage together.

The flame dress, 1979

Perhaps one of the most iconic looks ever worn by a performer, Turner wore the fondly dubbed ‘flame dress’ designed by Bob Mackie at one of her shows. The ensemble featured a huge billowing cape reminiscent of wings made from turkey feathers, with a mini dress made from red, orange, and yellow stripes lying across her torso. In true Turner style, the whole thing was embellished with crystals and beads. The look was so iconic, that the fiery number was worn by a plethora of divas following on, including Cher, Beyoncé, Lynda Carter, and RuPaul. 

Tina’s Denim Jacket, 1985

When Turner headed on her fifth concert tour, ‘Private Dancer’, she took inspiration from her music video ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’, and put her signature denim jacket to good use. The full monochrome black look with a pair of super sheer tights, a low-cut tank top, and a leather miniskirt was paired with cherry red stilettos and, of course, the light-wash mid-cut denim jacket. For her tour, the jacket got an upgrade and was emblazoned with pins and patches and matched with various leather minidresses. With a spiky fringe and lioness-style mane, the look was also chosen by Barbie, and Turner’s very own doll wore the look. 

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, 1985

Turner was not just a singer, dancer, and mega performer, she was also an actress! The star played Aunty Entity in the 1985 film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome – the story of a post-apocalyptic group of rebels. The chainmail corset look with a pair of very 80s shoulder pads, bangles, and a shiny silver headpiece was designed by costume designer Norma Moriceau. The inspiration was taken from Moriceau’s own punk days, for a gothic take on queen attire. The final piece weighed more than 100 pounds, and Turner wore it with pride. 

Three Grammy’s and a sparkly orange mini, 1985

At the 1985 Grammys, Turner took home not one or two but three Grammys. And to celebrate, she wore a coral-coloured sequin minidress in her signature super short cut. The cowl-necked piece glittered in the studio lights as she picked up her accolades, and she paired the likes with fishnets, black pumps, and a huge ‘do with highlights. 

Versace on tour, 1996

On her ninth sold-out worldwide concert tour for ‘Wildest Dreams’, Turner wore a sparkling silver design by Gianni Versace to perform. At the age of 55 years, she shimmied across the stage in the minidress lined with black lace and diamante slip straps, which were embellished with the Italian luxury house’s trademark Medusa logo. Taken from the FW96 collection, the lingerie-style ensemble cemented her relationship with both Donatella and Versace, and she went on to wear many more iconic Versace pieces on her tours.

  • Writer Ella Chadwick
  • Banner Image Credit Instagram @tinaturner

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