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Fashion Throwback Thursdays: Donna Summer

14 Jan 2016

For this week’s Throwback Thursday, I wanted to celebrate the many strong looks of human embodiment of 70s disco glamour: Donna Summer. She is often dubbed The Queen of Disco, and understandably, considering her influence on the birth and evolution of disco, pop and electronic music.

I initially had my reservations about including her in this Throwback series, considering her rumoured homophobic comments in the 1980s. Even though she denied ever making the comments, and has since apologised, claims like these ought to be taken seriously whenever idolising a celebrity figure. However, I do believe that Donna’s many achievements, including becoming one of the best-selling artists in the world and winning five Grammy Awards, qualifies her as an inspirational woman of colour, even once we recognise her problematic behaviour.

Donna sadly passed away in 2012, but her legacy lives on through these photos of her amazing outfits, which have clear effects on the fashion of today. I’ve chosen five key elements of her theatrical style which I believe give her fashion icon status.



Image: Chris Walter/WireImage4

Image: Keystone/Getty Images

Donna Summer knew how to rock furs and florals like no other – way before everyone was wearing them to Glastonbury, with no regard for the practical fact that fluff, mud and British weather are not a good combination. Flowers tone down the extravagance of fur, adding an air of innocence that softens the boldness of look. However, I personally prefer the ostentation of the furry outfit below.


Image: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Imagine walking into a room wearing this!


Winged Sleeves


Image: Richard E. Aaron/Redfern

She looks like Hot Stuff in this embellished thigh-slit slinky number. Winged-sleeves were a big thing for Donna in the 70s, emphasising that she was a disco angel among us mere mortals.10

Images: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images



9Image: Redferns

I get that everything had to have sequins and jewels on, because disco, but Donna always took it to the extreme. The shape of this floor-length fringed cape/dress thing is spectacular as it stands, but the all-over bedazzlement is what being a star in the 70s was about.

14Image: Fin Costello/Redferns

Here Donna is giving us some serious Cleopatra realness.


Leopard Print


Image: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

15Image: Ron Galella/WireImage

Thousands have tried leopard print, few have pulled it off. It doesn’t have to look like a tacky garm that Cat Slater from Eastenders just bagged from the Albert Square street market. Do it like Donna did, and instead just keep it simple. These two photos were taken six years apart from each other, and the look is still timeless.


Statement Hair Pieces


Image: Richard E. Aaron/Redfern12

Image: Michael Ochs Archives

Putting a single flower in your hair may seem like a minor accessorising choice, and indeed something you used to do as a child. Despite this, Donna’s flowers soon became an iconic 70s look that has influenced the style and designs of generations to come.


Image: Redferns