Remember when Diana Ross stunned Central Park in a sparkling jumpsuit?
To date, the show is considered one of the most epic live shows of the decade and was perhaps Ross’ most memorable appearance. It was also, perhaps, the shortest concert to make such a lasting impression.
But that half hour sealed Ross’s reputation as a pop diva and style icon forever. Dressed in an orange sequin bodycon jumpsuit with a cape floating behind her, she looked just awesome as she literally stopped the show and urged the crowd to slowly take off while continuing to sing along.
Diana Ross wears an orange jumpsuit as she performs in Central Park during the 1983 televised concert. Credit: Carlos René Perez / AP
When Ross resumed the show in Central Park the next day, she took the stage in a striking purple jumpsuit (top photo) that had as much glitter as her orange number the night before.
These are two of the many brilliant stage looks displayed by the Motown Queen that have helped make the jumpsuit – usually of the sparkly, figure-hugging variety – a dazzling sartorial choice for female performers ever since.
Uniquely personal and always on top, the singer’s glamorous wardrobe helped make her an instantly recognizable figure in the industry – and jumpsuits played a central role.
Diana Ross donned a purple sequin jumpsuit when she returned to Central Park the next day. Credit: Tom Gates / Getty Images
The all-in-one appeal is pretty easy to grasp. Women loved them as liberating clothes that defied the masculine gaze – something that seemed particularly relevant in the midst of the women’s liberation movement. Men (at least creatives, liberals, hippies) loved suits for their fluid and anti-stereotypical possibilities. They were anti-establishment, they were comfortable, and they made “cool” incredibly easy to pull off.
Ross wore them like a second skin on stage. In the ’80s and early’ 90s, as the jumpsuit reached its heyday (and was declared “the ball gown of the next century” by American designer Geoffrey Beene), the soul singer’s embrace in did the same.
Diana Ross performing at one of her concerts in Central Park. Credit: Richard Corkery / NY Daily News Archive / Getty Images
They all owe a debt of gratitude to Ross, whose own daughter, Tracee Ellis Ross, has also sported the look time and time again, as glamorous as her mother on every occasion.