In 1976, 18 year-old Prince Rogers Nelson began sending out demo tapes out to every major record label in America, hoping to find a place where his creativity could flourish. After signing a deal with Warner Bros. Records, what followed was more than 40 years of genre-defining music and fashion forward excellence.
In celebration of the singer’s most iconic fashion moments, RR Auction’s latest event brought together a huge selection of clothing pieces, accessories, jewelry, concept sketches, and fabric swatches – all from one collector. Nearly every era of his prolific career was represented, a treat for any Prince fan.
Testing the Blueprint
The cloud guitar became a signature design for Prince. In his performance at the 12th Annual American Music Awards (AMAs), he can be seen shredding one as belts out his latest hit. And, RR is no stranger to his preferred instrument, having sold his white version in 2018 for $111,212 and his yellow variant in 2021 for $132,869.
In addition to his primary guitars, replicas were developed for limited production runs that would be sold during concerts, events, and, starting in 2001, the NPG Music Club store – including this deep blue variation. Originally from the 2002 run, this blue Cloud guitar was kept by the NPG Music Club store manager upon his retirement. Before these guitars went up for sale, Prince would test them as part of a review of the initial items to be sold by the store, including the one seen above.
This model sold by RR Auction in particular was also kept as a reference for future productions to assess Schecter’s quality as time went on, making it the special blueprint approved by Prince himself. At an estimate of only $4,000, this guitar sailed past that number easily, reaching $64,423 by the evening’s end.
The 12th American Music Awards
If there is any item that defines the Purple rain era, it would be the ruffled shirt. Throughout the Purple Rain tour and even in the film of the same name you can see him donning the puffy garment (sold in 2021 by RR Auction for $75,000).
This custom white ruffled shirt holds the distinction of being worn during his show-stopping performance at the 12th Annual American Music Awards (AMAs). After the great success of the film, Purple Rain, Prince received an astounding ten nominations and took home three awards for Favorite Pop/Rock Album, Favorite Soul/R&B Album, and Favorite Soul/R&B Single for ‘When Doves Cry.’ With his newly formed band The Revolution Prince graced the stage at the AMAs to sing his smash hit Purple Rain, leading the crowd in a powerful sing-along. After a few minutes of shredding his guitar and singing his heart out, Prince had been launched to international superstardom. In a 2017 retrospective by billboard, they hailed it as “the most iconic performance in the show’s 45-year history.”
In addition to this lot, RR featured two brooches from the performance – one worn during rehearsals and another worn on stage during the broadcast (which can be found in photographs and videos from the taping).
Becoming His Purpleness
Beyond ruffled shirts and other fashion pieces, fans could own material from the outfits seen on stage the world over. Several archives of fabric swatches and invoices from Paisley Park told the story of Prince’s outfits from Purple Rain on.
Sold for $15,901, this hefty binder contains more than 350 samples of dyed fabric that would later form the outfits for Prince and his bandmates between 1985 and 1987. During this time, Prince would embark on the Purple Rain (1984 – 1985), Parade (1986), and Sign o’ the Times (1987) tours. The archive is underscored by a series of 43 invoices issued by master fabric dyer Marliss Jensen “first under the business name Magic Marliss Design and later as the Iris Color Studio.” Jensen and Prince’s business relationship began right around the time of Purple Rain. As he was becoming an worldwide icon, Jensen’s own business was just beginning.
“I was working mainly for the theaters in town, doing dyeing projects for the Children’s Theatre and Chanhassen (Dinner Theatres),” Jensen said in an interview with the Pioneer Press. “Someone called me and asked if I could dye something for Prince. I think it was some fringe and some lace that needed to be purple. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal at the time, but they kept bringing me more work.”
Each of these swatches were presented to Prince to be approved for their designs, including several different shades and fabrics of his signature hue, purple. This binder was just one of several collections showcasing the distinct aesthetics for each tour.
Before the auction took place, RR hosted a private exhibition of multiple pieces at the Hotel Chelsea, including some of the items seen above. More than 200 devoted fans came by to get a glimpse of the outfits that marked a 40 year period and to share their love for The Artist.
Start your new year with RR Auction and consign your items to our upcoming events. We are currently accepting items for February Fine Autographs and Artifacts, Remarkable Rarities where we’ll be featuring items worth $10,000 and more, and Apple and Steve Jobs for any and all vintage technology. Dial 800-937-3880 to speak with one of our specialists or submit your lots at the link below.
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