Written By: Erin Livingston

Born in Memphis into a family of gospel, Aretha Franklin was destined for style. With a career over five decades long, the ‘Queen of Soul’ transcended the music industry. Franklin became an icon not just of soul itself, but of strength, women’s liberation, and the civil rights movement. She redefined the art of expression through song.

Over Franklin’s career she won seventeen Grammys, had twenty Number 1 R&B hits, and the largest number of Top 40 singles of any female performer. She also spread her music outside the studio through performing at a number of special events. This included Bill Clinton’s pre-inaugural celebration (1993), the Kennedy Center Honors (2015), and President Barack Obama’s inauguration (2018).

Aretha Franklin holds up her trophy in one hand, and her shoes in the other, as she poses at the 1983 Annual American Music Awards.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Perhaps most impressive is Franklin’s music resiliency. When her career hit a lull in the 1980s she switched record labels from Atlantic to Arista and began working with executive Clive Davis. Davis reminded her music was ‘timeless,’ and reassured her she could create new hits in her 40s and beyond. The new collaboration launched her back into stardom with her 1982 single, “Jump to It,” and the 1985 album, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?.” Part of the album included her final Number 1 R&B single, “Freeway of Love,” which introduced her to the MTV generation. Shortly after she began a successful formula of collaborating with younger artists like Elton John and Whitney Houston.

Throughout Franklin’s remarkable moments she took to the stage, and numerous red carpet events, in equally radiant garments. From sequined sweet-heart gowns to lavish floor-length fur coats, her presence at an event was never overlooked. In celebration of the recent film release Respect starring Jennifer Hudson as Franklin, scroll through to see some of her most stylish moments leading up to, and through, the ’90’s.

Singer Aretha Franklin holding her award in one hand and her shoes in another at the 1983 American Music Awards.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Lionel Richie (R) and Aretha Franklin (L) at the 1983 American Music Awards.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin performing at Radio City Music Hall in New York, 1989.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin performing at Radio City Music Hall in New York, 1989.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin performing at Radio City Music Hall in New York, 1989.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin performing at Radio City Music Hall in New York, 1989.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Singer Aretha Franklin and record executive Clive Davis at a party in New York, 1989.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Portrait of Aretha Franklin, 1989.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Singer Aretha Franklin and record executive Clive Davis at a party in New York, 1989.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin holding her Legend Award at 32nd Annual Grammy Awards, 1990.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin holding her Legend Award at 32nd Annual Grammy Awards, 1990.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin with her Legend Award at the 32nd Annual Grammy Awards, 1990.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin at the Night of 100 Stars, 1990.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin with record executive Clive Davis at the Night of 100 Stars, 1990.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin wearing a red lace dress while at an event with record executive Clive Davis, 1990.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin wearing a red lace dress, 1990.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin with a signed Harley-Davidson motorcycle at the New York Cafe opening, 1990.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin at the Harley-Davidson New York Cafe opening, 1990.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin walking with three dogs at a red carpet event, 1990.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin holding a dog, 1990.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Willie Wilkerson (left) and Aretha Franklin (center left) with record executive Clive Davis (center right), 1992.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin wearing a cheetah print jacket, 1992.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin at the Essence Awards, April, 1993.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin (L) and Lena Horne (R) at the Essence Awards, 1993.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin at the Essence Awards, April, 1993.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin (L) and Rod Stewart (L) rehearsing for a 1993 AIDS benefit concert.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin during rehearsal for a 1993 AIDS benefit concert.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin performing at a 1993 AIDS benefit concert.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin at a 1993 AIDS benefit concert.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin (center left) with Rod Stewart (L) at a 1993 AIS benefit concert.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin at an event, 1995.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Artists Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, and Aretha Franklin at an unidentified event, 1995.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin with Guns N’ Roses member, Slash, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opening, 1995.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin holding a camcorder at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opening, 1995.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Singers Aretha Franklin and Al Green performing at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, 1995.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin at the opening of Trump tower, 1997.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin at the opening of Trump tower, 1997.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin at the opening of Trump tower, 1997.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin at the opening of Trump tower, 1997.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin at the 39th Annual Grammy Awards in 1997.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin at the 39th Annual Grammy Awards in 1997.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin at the Musicares tribute dinner in New York, 1998.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

Singer Aretha Franklin performing at VH1 Divas Live, 1998.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

(L-R) Mariah Carey and Aretha Franklin VH1 Divas Live concert at the Beacon Theater, 1998.

(DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock)

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