Supreme Glamour

Thames & Hudson. Sept. 2019. 240p. ISBN 9780500022009. pap. $40. music/photog/dec arts
The Supremes’ founding member Wilson tells a very personal, vividly illustrated story of her life in the musical group. She recounts the trio’s early days as friends from the Detroit projects coming together to sing, through their rising stardom and international renown as the very successful Motown group, to the sad splintering of the group as Diana Ross goes solo and Florence Ballard’s depression and drinking make her incapable of performing. Wilson had the longest tenure with the group and became the Supreme’s de facto costume keeper. The highly polished and styled public image of the stars, both onstage and off-, was both a signature and an expectation of the women as representatives of African American “ladies.” Many of the costumes were taken out of storage, restored, and photographed especially for this volume. At times plodding, the writing is also informal, as if Wilson is providing an oral history.
VERDICT The facts here will not be new to fans, but the candid photographs provide a rich visual record of the stars’ life as performers. To see the gowns alongside Wilson’s down-to-earth accounts of what it felt like to wear them will be fun for enthusiasts of 1960s pop culture and the Supremes.
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