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Mariah Carey Hair Lexicon

Mariah Carey by David LaChapelle, 1999

By Tautahi Subritzky

Whether you’re a die-hard member of “The Lambily” or you’ve just vibed to her music throughout the decades, there’s no denying Mariah Carey’s icon status in the pop music industry.

On top of her acclaimed songwriting ability and infamous five-octave vocal range, Mariah stands as the only musical artist to have a No. 1 hit single in each of the past four decades, and, with over 200 million albums sold, ranks as one of the most commercially successful musicians of all time.

Granted, Mariah has a stack of career receipts, but her endurance in the music industry goes far beyond that. Her Aretha Franklin musicality, Dolly Parton-esque campiness and the “Mariah-isms” are permanently etched into the public imagination, and daaahling, we’re obsessed.

From R&B starlet to diamond-encrusted pop diva to the “Queen of Christmas”, Mariah’s musical career has followed an upward trajectory (with some truly spectacular sartorial moments in between). It’s tiiiiime to take a closer look at Mariah Carey’s life in looks.

Mariah Angela Carey, born 27th of March, 1969 in Huntington, New York.

With a yellow scrunchie-tied ponytail pulled to the top of the head and a bright pink tank dress, there’s no denying it’s the 80s. Upon relocating to New York City, before finding fame and success, Mariah lived with two roommates in a cramped New York City apartment on the Upper West Side. She worked as a waitress and coat check attendant before landing a gig as a backup vocalist to Puerto Rican singer Brenda K Starr. Pictured here at the age of 18 with her long-time bestie Will Smith.

While working standard jobs to make ends meet, Mariah put together a demo tape and managed to get it into the hands of the then-president of Sony Music, Tommy Mottola. An industry titan who had worked with the likes of Michael Jackson and Celine Dion. The demo tape included ‘Vision of Love’, a song that would be included on her debut album ‘Mariah Carey’ and would end up putting her on the map.

We’ve got to gush over the hair in this image. Mariah’s naturally curly and voluminous mane next to Patrick Swayze’s mullet? It’s an ‘80’s into the 90’s’ hair DREAM.

For her first exposure at the 33rd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony, clad in a crystal embellished LBD with her iconic curls, Mariah took home two Grammys, including ‘Best New Artist’ and ‘Best Female Pop Vocalist’ for her single “Vision of Love”.

A plush white robe and marabou kitten heels are truly the most glamorous breakfast attire.

Who knew Mariah was a Horse Girl? We certainly do now. Mariah Carey shot by Robin Bowman for People magazine.

Mariah on her wedding day to her former husband, Tommy Mottola. “Of course, I was inspired by Princess Diana. Who wasn’t? I loved that wedding”.

If the ‘Pop Star meets Mrs Claus’ catsuit wasn’t enough of a clue, this was the year Mariah solidified herself as the “Queen of Christmas” releasing her first Christmas album titled “Merry Christmas” which featured “All I Want for Christmas (Is You)”.

Mariah Carey by Steven Meisel, For her fifth studio album ‘Daydream’. The all black outfit is a Meisel signature.

Gal pals, Mariah and Lil’ Kim at the opening of Puff Daddy / Puffy’s / P.Diddy / Diddy’s / Sean Combs’s restaurant ‘Justin's’.

Mariah performing at the WBLS ‘Holiday Jam’ in N.Y.C. in Atelier Versace (of course).

An Ethereal up-do in motion for ‘Entertainment Weekly’ by Matthew Rolston.

Mariah went full ‘Bond Girl’ in the music video for her single Honey. The video presented a new and less conservative Mariah, than had been seen previously and marked a time in her career when she was finally given more creative control over her own image.

A bounce blowout and legs for days. Mariah Carey attending the 14th annual MTV Video Music Awards.

Howdy partner! Mariah revisiting her Horsey Girl roots for Rolling Stone Magazine, shot by Albert Watson.

A truly memorable VMA moment. Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey present the award for ‘Best Male Video’ in matching Vera Wang slip dresses.

A cute barrette, crochet halter top and the iconic waistless jeans featured in Mariah’s music video for her single ‘Heartbreaker’.

Sure, Luciano Pavarotti is considered one of the greatest opera singers of the 20th century, but did you know Mariah can speak to dolphins in whistle tone?

A Y2K butterfly moment for the VH1 Divas 2000 Tribute to Diana Ross.

We HAD to show you the full look, because it’s too good not to.

Mariah on stage performing with Diana Ross in matching Versace chainmail dresses. The dresses, belonging to Mariah herself, were a last-minute swap out for what was intended to be two “hideous green sequined gowns”.

Mariah as ‘Billie Frank’ in the film Glitter. The film itself may have been a commercial flop but it has us seriously contemplating this cycling cap and pigtails combination.

Can we talk about INCHES? Because Mariah is serving them.

Who doesn’t love a juicy lil’ feud between celebs, especially when it’s played out like this? We can see why Eminem was so ‘Obsessed’ though. We are too.

The year Mariah Carey threw one of the “worst first pitches of all-time”. Sure, sporting prowess might not come naturally to Mariah, but with the slick high pony, wrap-around shades, personalized satin baseball jacket, denim short shorts and sky high platform heels, at least she dressed to theme.

A diamond moment for Paper magazine, shot by James White.

Mariah Carey and “Santa Snoop” for her Magical Christmas Special.

We’ve definitely seen this outfit before. The icon, Mariah Carey, immortalized in “Barbie” form.

In FULL “Queen of Christmas” mode. Mariah on her latest tour ‘Merry Christmas One And All!’.

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