The Prince Estate is pleased to announce a special collaboration with Prince’s trusted late-career clothing designers, Call & Response. Coinciding with the release of the highly anticipated Super Deluxe reissue of Prince’s iconic double album, 1999, the Estate has commissioned the Toronto design duo of Cathy Robinson and Lori Marcuz—known by their studio name Call & Response—to create an evocative, hand-crafted collection of custom jackets, vests and hand-dyed tunics exclusively for Prince’s fans.
Starting in the early 2010s, as Prince’s music morphed into a rawer, more rock-oriented blues sound, his dress code followed suit. By the time he assembled his hard-driving trio 3RDEYEGIRL, Prince had started wearing an evolving collection of textured, distressed jackets that resembled the ‘60s wardrobes of Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone.
Though the public didn’t know it at the time, these striking jackets were a signature creation of Call & Response, who outfitted Prince in countless pieces from 2011-2016.
“We got this call: Can we put a box together? And we put just about anything we could think of in the box, and shot it off,” Cathy remembers. “And we got a call—fairly late-night—saying he loved the clothes, and he’d like to buy them all, and would we be interested in working with him in the future?”
Soon they went from sending Prince collections of items they had already created to designing pieces just for him, filling their studio with the sound of his music and the artists who inspired him as they stitched together layers of metallic and burnished leathers, pieces of antique textiles, and textured fabrics, and shipping off boxes to Paisley Park for Prince and the musicians he was working with including 3RDEYEGIRL, Andy Allo, Liv Warfield, and Judith Hill.
“For a man who took his image very seriously, this was a relationship built on profound trust.”
Prince clearly liked what he saw. He began wearing their pieces at all of his public appearances: including his incendiary HITNRUN shows with 3RDEYEGIRL; the Grammys, where he strolled out in an unforgettable layered studded-leather jacket; Jimmy Kimmel Live; the Billboard Music Awards; Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; and Saturday Night Live.
As Sally Singer wrote in Vogue, “The Call & Response duo’s relationship with Prince was so remote yet passionate, a long-distance love affair of a most original stripe.” And the unique nature of their collaboration and the rush to finish new pieces for Prince opened a whole new side of their work. Cathy explains, “It was like being in the middle of a creative maelstrom. There was no time to think, no time to plan. We were walking a tightrope of design. We would listen to him, his influences and those he influenced and feel it filter through our hands into garments. There were no mood boards, no story lines, just raw visceral design.”
With all of the excitement surrounding the expanded reissue of 1999, Cathy and Lori were honored to continue to create new pieces based on their profound creative connection to Prince and their appreciation of his 1999 era. The pieces evoke some of Prince’s trademark fashion elements from the era—including his famous shiny, studded purple trench coat—but are updated with Call & Response’s attention to textured fabrics, overlays, and detail.
“For us, this is a true collaboration. We have infused what we understood of Prince through the eyes of 1999. We are not trying to make costume, but wearable clothing with a nod between the Prince we knew and the one that came before,” Cathy explains.
See the full line of Call & Response’s 1999 designs here.
Prince’s 1999 was reissued in remastered, expanded, and Super Deluxe editions on November 29th via NPG Records/Warner Records. Get it here. Listen to the official podcast, Prince: The Story of 1999, which dives into the stories and iconic songs Prince recorded in this pivotal era of his career here.