Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of the late President of South Africa Nelson Mandela passed away on Monday, April 2, 2018, at the age of 81. She was a woman made an immeasurable impact on the history of South Africa and the fight against apartheid.
Among many other names, Winnie Mandela has been called the “mother of the nation” but stood accused or convicted of fraud, theft, kidnap and murder whilst having being revered and reviled over the decades.
Style-wise, Winnie was not one who would be described as having a defined style to create a consistent public image. However, she has come to be looked upon as something of a style icon, her vivid wardrobe becoming linked to her message of empowerment and perseverance. So much of a style icon was she that she was a style inspiration for Black Panther costume designer Ruth Carter.
From gracefully embellished gowns, Che Guevera-style berets, matronly suits, ferocious animal prints to chaotically coordinated separates, she used her wildly diverse outfits as some sort of real-time commentary on the world around her depending on what was called for in a particular political moment. Her style was truly one of her weapons of patriotism and an instrument of political activism.
A look at her style over the years…
Photo credit: Getty Images, BBC
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