R.I.P. Aretha Franklin, Who Had Style to Match Her Soul

Days after news circulated about Aretha Franklin‘s failing health, the legendary artist reportedly passed away on Thursday, August 16, at the age of 76. While there are a few modern musical artists who have had a claim on being the Queen of Soul, there was only one who held the actual title. Franklin, who came up singing gospel in a Detroit choir, always looked nothing less than a queen onstage as well: The first woman ever to be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame loved her minks floor length, her dress slits up to here, her embroidery shiny with gold and precious gems—whatever said drama out loud. And while she famously refused to step on an airplane for much of the second half of her life, Franklin reigned in looks that traveled the globe and decades: for example, her chic bohemian caftans in the ’70s, and her showstopping fuchsia and powder blue gowns in the ’80s. Along the way, she’s had more than her share of style moments, from slaying “Nessun Dorma” at the 1998 Grammy Awards to her scene-stealing performance at Barack Obama‘s inauguration. Here, a look back at some of Franklin’s iconic moments through the years.


The singer posed for a portrait in a classic ’60s formfitting cream pencil dress that featured a side knee-high split. He look was completed with a pair of matching cream mary jane pumps.

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The soul singer looked divine as she donned an embellished bell-sleeve caftan as she posed for a portrait.


American soul singer Aretha Franklin stands backstage wearing a gold-embroidered gown and holding a Grammy Award, circa 1970.


Never afraid to show off her voluptuous curves, Franklin was front and center at her concert in 1972, dressed in a navy blue and gold dress that accentuated her bust with a low neckline and her legs with a thigh-high split.


Aretha Franklin performing a song on a 1975 Bob Hope television special.


At the 10th Annual Music Awards in 1983, the singer shows off her award and curvy figure as she poses in a strapless sequined gown on the red carpet.


Aretha Franklin, in powder blue, in a concert circa 1985.


Franklin performing at the Chicago Theater.


Franklin, in 1990, in a regal gown by the late designer Arnold Scaasi, looking every inch the Queen of Soul.


Franklin wore this leopard-and-zebra print jacket, matching cuff, and cream minidress to the Arista Records Pre-Grammy Party. She accessorized her look with gorgeous gold chandelier earrings.

Photo by Getty Images.

Franklin sings “Some Day We’ll All Be Free”at the inauguration for President Bill Clinton in January 1993, on the steps of Lincoln Memorial.


The Queen of Soul arrived to the 39th Annual Grammy Awards looking radiant and glamorous in a cream dress and matching fur coat.


Franklin performed at Radio City Music Hall for a VH1 special in a fuchsia and black patterned gown paired with a satin fuchsia and black shawl and black strappy sandals.


Franklin stole the show with her performance, and hat, at the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009.


Franklin stunned in a off-the-shoulder black satin gown during her performance at the Candie’s Foundation 2011 event. She kept her accessories classic: a pearl necklace and earrings.


The legendary songstress looked angelic in a white one-shoulder gown for her performance during Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular.


Franklin looked radiant and effortlessly chic in a shimmering soft gold caftan while attending the 102nd White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.


Franklin performing during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival opening gala premiere of Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of our Lives, at Radio City Music Hall on April 19, 2017, in New York. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.