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After the success of his album 1999, Prince gave his then-manager Robert Cavallo an ultimatum: he wouldn’t renew his contract unless he got to star in a studio film. After every studio had rejected the premise of a musician-led film, Cavallo decided to produce the film himself.

Filmed predominantly in Minneapolis at the end of 1983 in a scant 42 days, the film centers around Prince’s character “The Kid”, the rise of his band The Revolution, his turbulent home life, and his musical-personal rivalry with Morris Day’s character and their shared love interest, Apollonia.

The film is tied to the album of the same name, which produced the chart-topping singles, “When Doves Cry”, “Let’s Go Crazy”, and “Purple Rain”, and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score. Purple Rain‘s soundtrack is regularly ranked among the greatest albums of all time and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, as well as added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry list of sound recordings that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

The film’s costumes ushered in some of the biggest trends of the mid-80s. The Kid’s signature poetic ruffled shirts and long purple duster channeled the bravado of an earlier era’s swashbuckler. The combination of studs and chains on lace and velvet exuded glitz and edginess. This contrasted starkly with Morris and crew’s polished looks; dapper suits, ties, gabardine trench coats and fedoras – a fitting throwback to an era when mobsters ruled city streets. Clad in skin-tight black leather, Apollonia mirrors The Kid’s tough exterior, masking shared vulnerabilities in a key scene, while she and her bandmates command the stage in lace bustiers and opera gloves, dripping in rhinestones, projecting girl power and confidence.

Has it really been 40 years since Prince roared onto the big screen on his customized purple motorcycle catapulting him to superstardom? Let’s go crazy this week and celebrate musical film royalty, channelling the iconic looks of the 1980s through Prince. Let purple reign!

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