A Celebration Of Herb Ritts. Jody Watley For GAP Classic Campaign

Portraits. Individuals Of Style By Herb Ritts 1989.
Poster caption: Gap long sleeved pocket-t as customized by JODY WATLEY singer-songwriter Photographed by Herb Ritts.
Jody Watley Photographed by Herb Ritts, 1989.
Style Icon Jody Watley Photography Herb Ritts For GAP 1989 Celebrity Campaign
GAP. Individuals Of Style Celebrity Ad Campaign 1989.

With so many efforts to erase, rewrite or revise history in all aspects of society from books to what we see and hear across social media depending on the source, it’s important to have source information to refer to. Jody Watley was a part of the first celebrity ad campaign for GAP in 1989. The inclusion in this particular campaign and theme “Portraits: Individuals Of Style” photography by the legendary Herb Ritts is important for a variety of reasons. The campaign included ‘Larger Than Life’ images in-store, bus stops and billboards across the country. Jody Watley was one of the few black crossover stars of that time to be featured in this what is now called ‘rebranding’ or ‘artist branding’. Jody received notice not just from her breakout solo hits, she became a stand-out in her personal self-styling in music videos, album and single art, appearances and promotional photography.

“When asked to be apart of this, I was so excited at the opportunity. The team said I could wear the T-shirt however I chose. In addition, it gave me an opportunity to change up the big hair to a sleek short pixie-cut. My fans at the time hated it but I loved it, felt fresh and modern. Today’s artists are the luxury to change it up frequently, fans almost expect it now, unlike the 80’s and 90’s.”

Jody Watley was recognized as a style icon going back to her teen years on the iconic show Soul Train. Excerpt from Nelson George “The Hippest Trip In America – Soul Train and the evolution of culture and style “….with Jody emerging as a late 70’s style icon. She could rock silver shorts and red glitter converse sneakers, vintage 1940’s inspired dresses with pumps or her prom dress. Her hair was an ongoing adventure, sometimes filled with tons of ribbons, sometimes long ponytails, or a 1940’s hairdo..” ~ Book published by William Morrow Imprint of Harper Collins Books.

“Working with Herb Ritts in this campaign was just incredible. California born and raised Herb was relaxed, charming and so kind, easy to work with.” Watley has said. “He also threw incredible birthday parties that were a virtual who’s who and I was thrilled to be invited to a few!”

Talking Fashion. VOGUE 1996. Herb Ritts Birthday Celebration with such notables as Diana Ross, Madonna, Tom Ford and Jody Watley to name a few!

In addition to the GAP campaign, Jody Watley’s Herb Ritts portrait of disco mirrored eyes was featured in 2008’s historic Black Issue of Vogue Italia. The “Outstanding Ladies” in the issue included Jody Watley and actress Angela Bassett.

Jody Watley by Herb Ritts. August 2008 VOGUE Italia The Black Issue.
Legendary Photographer Herb Ritts August 13, 1952 – December 26, 2002.

The work of Herb Ritts as a photographer and video director is iconic and renowned – never forgotten.

Giving Them Their Roses. Jody Watley Appreciation Blog

Jody Watley Appreciation Blog.

Giving Them Their Roses – By Gran Varones

what a time it was to be alive and witness the brilliance of jody watley thrive at every level of pop culture. when people talk about the pop/dance divas of the 80’s and 90’s, jody watley’s legacy is often omitted, which is nothing short of criminal. jody watley is arguably one of the most influential pop/dance artists of the musical era.

born in chicago on january 30, 1959, jody was introduced to the stage by her godfather & soul music pioneer, jackie wilson. by the time she turned 17, her trendsetting fashion style and dancing made her one of the most popular dancers on the weekly TV dance show “soul train.”

by the late 1970’s and early 80’s, jody was charting hits on both sides of the pond as one third of the post-disco group, shalamar. their sound and style made them one of the most influential r&b/dance groups of the 1980’s.

after exiting the group in 1983, jody moved to london for a few years before returning to the US to slay with gurls with her 1986 monster hit, “lookin’ for a new love.” her solo debut album followed and the hits continued. she would go in to win the grammy for best new artist in 1988.

in 1990, she released her sophomore album “larger than life” which included two of the pop/dance genres most influential songs. the video for the lead single, “real love” introduced high runway fashion into the pop music esthetic. it also became one of the VMA’s most nominated videos. the follow-up single, “friends” a collaboration with hip-hop duo erik b. & rakim invented the rap/sing genre that continues to dominate contemporary pop music.

for the past 40 years, jody watley has remained one of music’s most innovative performers, writers, singers and fashion icons. in 1990, long before AIDS advocacy became the “thing” to do, she was part of one of the first global HIV/AIDS projects.

jody continues to perform all over the world and champions lgbtq rights. miss watley is a living legend who have amassed 32 top 10 singles and 13 No. 1 singles across multiple  genres over the past three decades as a solo artist. all this and she never, ever had to gay bait. why? cuz miss jody was and still is THAT gurl! – Gran Varones

Full post: Here

From The Archives. Jody Watley Sophisticate’s Black Hair Styles and Care Guide Cover 1996.

Jody Watley, Black Hair Sophisticates, 1996.


Jody Watley in Ebony Magazine Top 25 Black Music Style Icons

Ebony Top 25 Black Music Style Trendsetters

Jody Watley Trendsetter - Ebony Magazine List

I want to thank Ebony Magazine for the acknowledgement and inclusion on this esteemed list.

25 Black Music Style Icons : Ebony Magazine