The legendary Celia Cruz was known for her outrageous, bold style just as much as for her incredible musical talent. It was the playful uniform that showcased Cruz’s technicolor personality to the world. As with her music, her style was sparkling, loud, colorful, and 100% Celia.
October 21 is Celia Cruz’s birthday; she would have been 93 years old. In honor of the icon, we are taking a look at the different elements that made up Celia’s unique style, over the course of her almost 60-year career.
Colorful, Bold Wigs
Before Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj were wearing technicolor wigs, Celia was adding bold pops of color to her outfits with colorful pelucas. We all remember the blue and white, sky-high wig she wore to the 2002 Latin Grammys, and all the other fun styles she sported throughout the years. Fun wigs served as the finishing touch to Celia’s equally-bold looks.
Celia Cruz got down on stage—in these shoes! Her gravity-defying high-heeled pumps were handmade, especially for her, by Miguel Nieto of Mexico City. One pair of these heels were a towering 6.75″ high; another pair is a permanent part of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
Celia had a fabulous figure, and she showed it off in form-fitting gowns that would accentuate her hourglass form. This included a lot of mermaid-style dresses, with dramatic details.
Bright Monochromatic Looks
Celia wasn’t afraid of sporting a bright color from head to toe. We have the cobalt blue boldness from the 2002 Latin Grammys, and this sunny orange look (peluca included) from the 2001 “La Negra Tiene Tumbao” video.
Sequins, Sparkle, and Shine
If it wasn’t shiny, sparkly, or glittery, Celia probably wasn’t wearing it on stage. It was apparent she wanted her wardrobe to sparkle as much as her. You would often see the star in sequins, satin, gold lame, crystals/rhinestones, and dazzling embroidery.
It’s obvious that Celia Cruz was a more-is-more kind of star. She didn’t opt for a bold wig and a subdued dress, or a sparkling gown and a simple earring. No, she fearlessly mixed it all together to create a look uniquely her own. This included big statement earrings, powerhouse necklaces, and glitzy sunglasses.
Ruffles, Volume, and Drama
A lot of Celia’s outfits were form fitting, but they more often than not featured tiers of ruffles on the sleeves and hem of her dresses. This was a feature in the traditional Bata Cubana, or Cuba Rumba dress, that was said to be Celia’s “preferred performance costume.” One of her iconic Bata Cubanas was donated to the Smithsonian in 1997. Celia would also add the drama with glittering caftans, and an elegants dashiki she wore in 1975.