Madonna and Aretha

We can certainly attribute latex outfit experimentation to one of these ladies, for the other, more evening gown haute couture and furs. But when one considers that Madonna turned sixty this week and Aretha Franklin died, during this most ‘interesting’ week in pop culture, these women were foremost in the news.

Miss Madge reigns supreme in the influence of that world where fashion and music meet. Aretha Franklin represents the mix of classic pop/soul hits with an underlying unwavering strain of feminism (not that Madonna does not represent feminism herself in her way). The two women are icons, divas to many (a title Aretha Franklin wore proudly) and have no equal in what they specifically produced.

In Madonna’s case, we were first introduced to rubber bracelets and lace gloves, and Catholic iconography as fashion. We got the “boy toy” belt buckle and the lingerie outfits, and then later her fashion sense was seeming more influenced by Marilyn Monroe. Then the gloves were off when Madonna produced the controversial SEX book and began flirting on and off with Jean Paul Gaultier’s creations.

Aretha Franklin managed huge success with songs like “Think,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and the feminist anthem “Respect,” plus so many others. She ranks as the most charted female singer in Billboard history, won 18 Grammy Awards, and was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But as much known for her music, the Queen Of Soul was as known for her activism and stance in the civil rights movement and other causes for people of color. She performed both at Mahalia Jackson’s funeral to Barack Obama’s inauguration and posted bail for civil rights activist Angel Davis in 1970 when Davis was arrested for murder.

A mere few of her non-musical and in to many, unfashionable public maneuvers.

We can certainly see the cultural impact of both Madonna and Aretha Franklin, fashionable in their time and fashioning the times around them. And we celebrate both this week where both indeed featured so prominently in the news.