Olivia Newton-John’s enduring image may always be one of permed hair, bare shoulders and black spandex on the set of Grease. Yet she was a fashion icon before and long after the blockbuster musical. Emerging in the early 1970s with a string of hit singles, Newton-John put a glamorous spin on the bohemian aesthetic, seemingly as comfortable in sparkling bodysuits and evening gowns as she was in bell-bottoms and miniskirts.
Newton-John’s turn as a leather-clad 1950s grease in the film Grease was a throwback to an earlier era, but she herself was already ahead of her time. She had already helped establish activewear as a trend with her unforgettable music video for 1981’s “Physical and Xanadu,” where she wore shorter hair, bright colors and a headband.
Newton-John, who became a global star in the film “Grease” (1978), continued to epitomize understated elegance in the decades that followed. She wore skin-tight black pants and leather jackets at Hollywood awards, premieres, and film festivals.