Forty years after the Supremes first topped the record charts on their way to worldwide fame, some of the distinctive gowns that became nearly as famous made their debut at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, in partnership with original Supreme Mary Wilson.
Reflections: The Mary Wilson Supreme Legacy Collection, an exhibit that featured more than 50 Supremes costumes and rare memorabilia, opened on Wednesday, April 28, 2004. The exhibit celebrated the 40th anniversary of the trio’s first Number One hit, “Where Did Our Love Go.” This song was the first of five straight Number One hits that established the Supremes as Motown’s most popular act and the most successful girl group of all time.
The Supremes, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, were known for their glamorous and sophisticated style with costumes that were a visual delight covered in chiffon, sequins, beads, fringe, rhinestones and feathers. The collection included the first gowns purchased by Wilson, Diana Ross and Florence Ballard when they were still known as the Primettes; a set of black velvet Bob Mackie gowns worn on the GIT on Broadway television special in 1969; outfits worn on the Supremes’ television specials and featured on album covers; and those from their 1977 Farewell Performance. One set of dresses included a loose-fitting maternity outfit worn by Wilson while she was pregnant.
“We’ve been visiting the Rock Hall for three years, about two times per year. Your displays are fabulous and we learn something new each time we’re here...It’s even allowing us to teach our 9-year-old son about all music...So do we think it’s worth a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Dayton, Ohio in the pouring rain? You bet! Rock on.” “Wow - This is the music of our lives. This place is awesome - extremely impressive. We grew up on Alan Freed, Bandstand and Cousin Brucie. Keep up the good work - we’ll be back.”