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Get the look: Whitney Houston

Fashion journalist Francine Heath reimagines Whitney Houston’s best looks with a Sloane Street twist

8 December 2022

When Whitney Houston belted out I Have Nothing, she wasn’t talking about a stitch to wear. But how many times have we stared despairingly into our wardrobes and uttered those words before a glamorous event? 

Well, fear not. Inspired by the upcoming biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody, starring British actress Naomi Ackie as ‘The Voice’, we’ve reimagined some of the superstar’s most iconic looks, just in time for the festive season.

The Brit Awards 1999, London

Who can forget the moment Whitney brought baddie vibes to The Brits, performing It’s Not Right but It’s Okay in skin-tight black leather? The razor-sharp bob, the daringly dark lip, and the confident swishing of the train worked in perfect harmony with the look and the lyrics. 

Up the ante by swapping leather for latex in Versace’s ultra-glossy dress. Inspired by the Italian brand’s iconic 1990s designs, the cutout below the high neckline echoes the singer’s choker and means one less accessory for you to worry about. Switch boots for Tom Ford’s pointy pumps and apply a slick of the brand’s lipstick in Impassioned – a universally flattering deep burgundy.

Whitney at The Brit Awards in 1999
Versace Medusa Biggie latex dress, £2,270
Tom Ford Iconic T patent pumps, £890
Tom Ford lipstick in Impassioned, £40

American Music Awards 1986, Los Angeles

Bows are trending in a big way this season, but as this gorgeous shot of Whitney in the ’80s proves, they are truly timeless. Scooping two awards that night, including Favourite Soul/R&B Video with Saving All My Love for You, the singer exuded elegance in a one-shoulder gown topped with a teal bow and a twinkling brooch. 

Take some creative licence here and mirror the look with considered separates that can be worn long after the party season. Found at Harvey Nichols, Alice + Olivia’s top is sculpted into shape from crystal-embellished satin. It’ll work perfectly with high-waisted jeans such as Saint Laurent’s, leaving Mach & Mach’s signature Double Bow mules to add a pop of colour and Tiffany & Co’s bracelet to sparkle delicately.

Whitney at the American Music Awards in 1986
Alice + Olivia at Harvey Nichols Beline embellished satin top, £660
Saint Laurent jeans, £700
Mach & Mach at Harvey Nichols mules, £810 
Tiffany & Co. Diamonds by the Yard® bracelet, £465

The Bodyguard, 1992

Whether you’re dealing with the effects of one too many vodka martinis or simply feeling tired from non-stop socialising, there’s nothing quite like getting out into the fresh air the next day to blow away the cobwebs. This look takes cues from a scene in The Bodyguard, where Whitney’s character Rachel Marron rocks what she calls her ‘snazzy running suit’. Off-White’s sports-bra-meets-cropped-top will provide a great base with the matching leggings. Layer up with Burberry’s hoodie from the Future Heritage collection and Off-White’s track jacket in a size up for a more relaxed feel. Lastly, bunch some cosy socks over your trainers and you’re good to go.

Whitney and Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard, 1992
Off-White logo band track jacket, £520
Burberry hoodie, £790
Off-White top, £100
Off-White leggings, £395
Loro Piana Bobby socks, £130
Gucci x adidas Gazelle sneakers, £575

The Billboard Music Awards in California, 1993

Whitney was the big winner of the night at the Billboard Music Awards in ’93 thanks to the The Bodyguard album and her signature song I Will Always Love You, which was originally penned and recorded by Dolly Parton almost 20 years earlier. 

To celebrate, she ditched her favourite colour (purple) in favour of a bold, fiery red and wore it head to toe. Influenced by past eras, Prada’s elaborate yet elegant guipure lace dress has corset-inspired detailing without the restrictive qualities, and a detachable leather belt. Enhance the shade with Armani Beauty’s gloss in 400 and matching accessories, such as Anabela Chan’s ring with lab-grown rubies. Even your soles could be red, courtesy of Christian Louboutin at Harvey Nichols.

Whitney at The Billboard Music Awards in California, 1993
Prada guipure lace dress, £5300
Christian Louboutin at Harvey Nichols Kate pumps, £575
Jahan Geneve Ruby Jay watch, £POA
Anabela Chan Nova Coil ring, £990
Giorgio Armani Beauty Lip Magnet, £32.50

The Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, 2000

Our final fashion flashback (to the Grammy Awards in 2000), is fuelled by Valentino and Barbiecore (which just so happens to be the trend of the year according to Lyst’s latest report, thanks to the upcoming Barbie film starring Margot Robie as the leggy doll)

To recreate this outfit, look to Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Pink PP collection for Valentino, which has generated more than 76.9 million views on TikTok since its Autumn/Winter 2023 runway presentation. Instead of mirroring Whitney’s deconstructed gown with its embellished bra, take a sleek approach and try a vibrant suit underpinned by coordinating La Perla lingerie or a sheer tank top. All that’s left is a touch of party-ready sparkle from a dazzling diamond watch.


Francine Heath is a London-based fashion journalist who has contributed to Vogue UK, Refinery29, i-D, Eco-Age and more
Whitney at The Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, 2000
Valentino crepe couture blazer, £2500
Valentino crepe couture trousers, £1,200
La Perla triangle bra, £200
Prada sandals, £780
Chanel Rouge Coco Gloss, £31
Chanel Première Gourmette Chain watch, £6,250

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