In the 60s, no group meant more to music and glamour than The Supremes. Mary Wilson, co-founding member of Detroit-based trio, died suddenly in her home on Tuesday, TMZ reports. Wilson leaves behind a lustrous legacy that will fill the pages of history and fashion books for generations to come.
Despite a slow start to their Motown careers (they jokingly earned the name “no-hit Supremes” prior to their first charting song) the group found success in 1964 with the release of their single Where Did Our Love Go. The Supremes went on to set new records racking up 12 number one hits on the Billboard charts. The Supremes are also credited with paving the way for other Black artists to find mainstream success. Their shows were monumental in dismantling the color barrier while their majestic fashions changed the perception of Black women in the lens of America.
Wilson was a “trendsetter who broke down social, racial and gender barriers,” her publicist Jay Schwartz said in a statement.
Wilson detailed The Supremes’ influential fashion in her 2019 fashion memoir titled Supreme Glamour that showcases her “unparalleled collection” of gowns and flamboyant coordinated ensembles photographed on the Grammy Museum stage. (Amazon) Her festive dress collection has toured the world in exhibitions. “Our glamour changed things,” she said in an NY Times interview at the time. “What we wore mattered.”
“I was always proud of Mary,” said Barry Gordy in a statement. “She was quite a star in her own right, and over the years continued to work hard to boost the legacy of the Supremes.”
The Supremes disbanded in 1977, but Mary continued with a busy singing career. In her later years, she continued to perform and pen memoirs about her time as a Supreme. She went on to became a motivational speaker. In 2019, Mary was reunited with a long-lost sequin bodysuit she wore during a popular TV performance, one of the pieces lost when Motown Records relocated.
She beamed with pride string at the embellished and bejeweled piece with her name engraved on the label. “It’s like a child that’s coming home,” she said fighting back tears.
See some of their iconic looks, below.