Casci Ritchie

Casci Ritchie

Sunday's 1999 Presentation Panel Presenter

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Fashioning the Love God

Adopted by the counterculture in the 1960s, the frilly shirt found its way onto the sweat-glistening chest of Prince in the early 1980s. The frilly shirt, in its many guises, evokes images of romantic historicism dating back to the seventeenth century and holds connotations of performative seductive and desire to this day. This talk will focus on two disruptive embodiments – the ruffled tuxedo shirt and the poet blouse worn by Prince during the 1999 era and ask how these garments played a role in honing Prince’s provocative yet accessible image to fans and beyond.

As Prince’s stardom rose in 1983, there is a move away from thrift-store finds to a custom wardrobe. A focus will also be placed on the role of costume designers Louis Wells and Vaughn Terry Jelks, highlighting their influence on Prince’s burgeoning style and fashion’s corresponding role in Prince’s increasing popularity on the run-up to 1984.

Drawing on existing research on men’s fashion, the paper will explore the origins of the ruffled tuxedo and poet shirt and trace the garments’ ties with eroticism, nostalgia, and theatricality. Using the V&A collections, live performances, advertisements, and close textual analysis, I will discuss the ‘frilly shirt’ as a sartorial vehicle for desire and analyse the relationships between Prince, audience, and star image.

Casci Ritchie is a PhD candidate studying Prince, fashion, and fandom at Northumbria University. She has published widely about Prince’s sartorial legacy in peer-reviewed academic journals including Critical Studies in Men’s Fashion, Queer Studies in Media and Popular Culture, and most recently, the Sign O’ the Times Special Issue of Interactions: Studies in Communication & Culture. Her book, On His Royal Badness: The Life and Legacy of Prince’s Fashion, was published in 2021 as part of 404 Ink’s Inkling series.

On His Royal Badness: The Life and Legacy of Prince's Fashion