South Africa: Happy Birthday to The Style Icon, Brenda Fassie!

Tomorrow, November 3 is a special day in South African history because it happens to be the birthday of the indomitable MaBrrr. If she had not passed away fourteen years ago, she would have been turning 54 years old.

The bold and fearless MaBrrr disrupted the narrative as much as she wrote it. Watching her celebrity journey was always a joy ride: you never knew what was coming next. The controversies, the gender fluidity, and the rock-star lifestyle inspired generations of fans who still look to her as a legend.

MaBrrr found freedom to express herself as a mother, a woman, and an artist. Whether it’s Zola Budd, Vulindlela, or Weekend Special, everyone has that one song that takes you Higher and Higher.

Then there was the fashion. If it was a trend, Brenda wore it. If it was taboo, she was on it. And if it was demure, she disrupted it. MaBrr could outperform her peers in tight leather or rock up in Sissy Boy jeans and Kangol caps in Hillbrow. Whether in a bright miniskirt or a disco dress paired with her famed braided hairdos, Brenda’s style, like her music and persona, knew no bounds.

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She did what she wanted, how she wanted, whenever she wanted. It’s been more than a decade since her passing, and the “Madonna of the Townships” is still inspiring aspiring stars to make bold fashion choices and adopt her revived retro aesthetic. That is the power of Brenda.

So in celebration of her birthday, here is a gallery of some of her best fashion looks:

July 26, 1997. Brenda Fassie spotted near Yeoville, Johannesburg. Pic: Brett Eloff. © Sunday Times

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