Most people wore purple. And it rained.


What could be a more appropriate salute to Prince, star of the film "Purple Rain," for the opening of his seven-concert run at the Capital Centre last night.

No one came in a purple lame' trenchcoat like Prince, who lives in a purple house, has worn on stage. But the color of royalty was everywhere: purple sweaters, purple shirts, purple sweat suits, purple stone earrings, shiny purple ties and occasional purple satin stretch pants, sparkly purple blouses and purple taffeta prom dresses. And at least one purple wig.

And they carried purple balloons and purple flowers.

And those who had nothing purple to wear -- and there weren't all that many -- bought Prince and "Purple Rain" T-shirts and put them on on the spot. They strutted the corridors with the others until the concert began more than half an hour late.

The crowd was generally younger than the large number of parents who came to the Michael Jackson concerts earlier this fall, but older than all the young children who had turned out with those parents.

The Prince fans were mostly teen-agers, black and white, more girls than guys. And they dressed with far more imagination than the Jackson fans who limited their look-alike stance to one white glove, zippered jackets, dark glasses and curly hair.

Prince followers wear gloves, too, but always a pair, both lace and without fingers. Karen Brown, 16, a student at Oxon Hill Senior High School, and her friend Carla Applewhaite, also 16, a student at the Academy of Notre Dame, were dressed alike -- pink lace fingerless gloves, lace headbands, lace blouses, lilac pink net hose and white shoes, get-ups they developed together for the occasion. "I wear purple and lace whenever I can," said Applewhaite, adding, "I think Prince is sexy and he's hot."

Tina Sorenson, 16, and her cousin Gretchen Sorenson, 13, both from Waldorf, were wearing lace gloves with their neon bright outfits, including, for Tina, a dozen neon bangles.

"It's my new favorite color," said Candy Carpenter, an aerobics teacher in Bethesda who was wearing a purple blouse and shiny shocking-pink stretch pants and glitzy purple eye makeup. "I'm doing it for Prince."

It had never occurred to Trina Smith, 17, from Eleanor Roosevelt High School, to wear lace before she saw Prince. But now she even wears it to school. And for the concert, she and her friend Latanya Hoffman, also 17, were wearing black and white lace blouses under their gray sweaters.

Most of the men at the concert passed up Prince's penchant for Edwardian attire, such as ruffled blouses and lace cuffs. In fact, they seemed far more comfortable in the windbreaker styles of Michael Jackson than the theatrical garb of Prince.

"My glasses may be Michael Jackson but my studded belt is for Prince," said Lawrence Homes, 19, a construction worker from Fredericksburg. His friend, Timothy Anderson, 20, who plays the guitar in the Prince style, said the purple shirt he was wearing was his salute to Prince even if his vest had a lot of zippers, like the ones Jackson wears. As Stasia Droze, 17, one of 18 students from St. Mary's-Ryken School in Leonardtown, Md., pushed past the crowd around the stand selling T-shirts, she shouted, "Prince is okay, but Michael Jackson is the greatest."

One of her classmates put his hand over her mouth and, laughing, she was led to her seat.