Diana Maciel and Sarah deBrun started an Instagram account called The Sade Project earlier this summer to pay tribute to the legendary singer Sade Adu. They post photos of real people remaking David Montgomery's classic 1980 photo of Sade in a chambray shirt (which has been kept alive in spirit by fashion designer Isabel Marant), braid and gold hoop earrings, just as actress Yara Shahidi did as an homage in 2017.

As luck would have it, right after The Sade Project launched, a DJ night called Sade vs. Badu was coming to a club near them in Los Angeles, so they asked if they could set up a photo booth and transform some of the 700 attendees of the sold-out event into the star.

"We brought in a wardrobe of multiple chambray tops and we had a cosmetics company, Smashbox Cosmetics, donate something like 250 red lipsticks," Maciel recalls. "We had a ton of gold hoops that we were cleaning all night. And then we made a braid bar, where we were either braiding people's hair or adding snap-in braids for people."

Maciel and deBrun hope that people from all over the world will take the photo and hashtag it #TheSadeProject on Instagram. They're also talking about doing pop-ups announced right on the spot.

"Instead of having everything be so perfect, maybe we would announce locally that we were going to be at this corner between this and this time and bring out a photographer," Maciel explains.

"But overall, I’d like not to be so LA-based," she says. "I want people to take this picture even in the most casual of ways — even if it's a selfie — and submit it because there are so many great takes on this portrait. We had girls at the event that had wraps in their hair or had really short natural hair and didn't want to put in a braid. We had men do it. So I just think it's a portrait that people can take of themselves and it feels really good. There’s something about this uniform that feels really good. A denim shirt with red lipstick and a hoop is so empowering for some reason."

It's interesting that Maciel gravitated towards the denim shirt imagery because she is the creative director of a major denim brand.

"I know, isn’t that funny?" she laughs. "I didn't make that connection until later, but I kind of, I don't know if it's because I’m a Catholic school girl, but I’ve been wearing that uniform for a long time myself and maybe it was subconsciously an ode to Sade."

"I saw that image a long time ago," she said of that famous Sade photo. "I’m going to be 44, so that image has been in my mind for a really long time and it was definitely impactful for me when I was a little girl. I think it was the first time I saw somebody look or being acknowledged as beautiful that looked sort of like me. It wasn't a blond girl with blue eyes but it was somebody that had freckles and somebody that had my kind of hair. I think that image has lived in me for a long time."

In March, Sade released her first song in seven years, "Flower of the Universe" for the Wrinkle in Time soundtrack. And Sade the band is working on a new album, original member Stuart Matthewman recently told Rated R&B, but there won't be any rushing the icon for a release date.

Years ago, I think it was when ‘By Your Side,’ the song, came out, and big posters were stuck around New York. Someone sprayed or wrote on top of it, ‘Bitch sings when she wants to.’ Sade loved it.”

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