Diana and the girls brought glamor to girl groups.
Under the dictatorial watch of Berry Gordy, the legendary hitmaker and chief of Motown Records, the group polished its image, setting a standard for sophistication and dazzle that still holds up, even among all the overly handled, hyper-invented stars of today. To this day, it is rarely rivaled on the concert stage.
Gordy’s objective “was to transcend what every other previous girl group had been,” by conceiving a signature style for the group, said Howard Kramer, the curatorial director of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, which did a retrospective of Supremes costumes two years ago.
“Before the Supremes, the look was smart and simple, like the Shirelles; sassy and sexy like the Ronettes, or tomboyish and provocative like the Shangri-Las,” Mr. Kramer said. “But no one had ever done cocktail classy or set out to utilize certain visual signifiers that made them palatable to a white audience.”