Written by | Ray Cornelius
Today marks the 40th Anniversary of one of my favorite fashion movies, Mahogany starring the one and only, Diana Ross.
It features the Motown diva as Tracy Chambers, a woman who rises from the slums of Chicago to become a popular fashion designer in Rome. Fresh from the success of Lady Sings the Blues, Mahogany served as Ross’ dynamic follow-up and featured such iconic stars as Billy Dee Williams, Beah Richards, Nina Foch, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Marisa Mell and Anthony Perkins. The film was released on October 8, 1975 and has been a cult classic ever since.
Check out five reasons why we still think it’s a movie that rocks!
5. THE MUSIC
Photo Credit: Pintrest.com
The music for Mahogany was written by the late Michael Masser and includes the Oscar-nominated song, “Do You Know Where You’re Going To,” which was a No. 1 smash hit on the Billboard charts. It has also been performed by Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez.
4. THE FASHION
Photo Credit: FashionBombDaily.com
In addition to starring as the film’s lead, Diana Ross also served as the film’s costume designer. Having studied fashion design, millinery, pattern making and cosmetology as a teenager at Detroit’s Cass Technical High School, Ross used Mahogany as a vehicle to display her enormous talent as a model and fashion maven.
“The whole experience of making Mahogany (1975) was such a joy—well almost the whole time of it. One of the best parts was that I got to design my costumes. (And I still have them all, in storage—I’ve never thrown anything away.) But for Motown, I might have become a fashion designer,” states Ross in her book, Going Back.
3. THE LOVE STORY
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“Success is nothing without someone that you love to share it with…”
No other Black actors possessed dynamic on screen chemistry during the 1970’s like Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams. Ross as the determined fashion designer and Williams as the rising politician, were the definition of a “power couple” before it became a popular term. Both created images of Black love, romance and influence that still hasn’t been replicated in movies today.
“I always felt like we were two little kids going into a playground and just running around and having a lot of fun with each other,” said Billy Dee Williams to Oprah Winfrey about his experience making Mahogany with Diana Ross.
2. THE INFLUENCE
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Mahogany’s influence on African-American fashion and style is without question. The film inspired generations of designers, stylists, models, actresses, and singers from the late 1970’s through today.
“Diana Ross, particularly in ‘Mahogany,’ showcased her love for fashion by bringing creativity and courage to the screen. She brought us hope from the poorest black neighborhood, showing us that with a dream and incredible passion, we could rise above it all.”~Johnetta Boone, fashion and costumer designer
1. THE ICON
Photo Credit: MovieWeb.com
The original diva, Diana Ross created the blueprint for infusing music and fashion and has been the quintessential style icon for over 5 decades. She has been a muse for such top designers as Bob Mackie, Thierry Mugler and Tom Ford.
Her fashion influence can easily be seen in some of today’s biggest superstars including Taraji P. Henson, Kelly Rowland, Janet Jackson, Solange, Jill Scott, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Lil Kim, Mary J. Blige, Vivica A. Fox, RuPaul and Rihanna.
“Diana Ross is a big inspiration to all of us. We all grew up watching everything about her—her mic placement, her grace, her style and her class.”~Beyoncé
Check out the full movie below: