A History of Style: Fashion Inspired by Josephine Baker
When you think of a fashion icon from the past, who is the first person that comes to mind? Marilyn Monroe? Audrey Hepburn? Edie Sedgwick, maybe? While all three of those females have enviable styles that we absolutely love, there are so many other fashionable ladies that have graced the history pages. This biweekly column focuses on just that: unexpected and out-of-the-box fashion icons from the past. We feature girls who have not only created an influence, but also have distinct signature types that we can still draw inspiration from nowadays.
If you haven’t observed them already, be confident to check out our other “A History of Style” posts on Amelia Earhart, Billie Holiday, Joan Jett, Louise Brooks, Dorothy Dandridge, Elizabeth Taylor, Edith Head, Mary Tyler Moore, Sylvia Plath, Edith Bouvier Beale, Marlene Dietrich, Frida Kahlo, Cyndi Lauper, Isadora Duncan, Pam Grier, C. Z. Guest and Debbie Harry.
This week, we’ll be taking a closer look at entertainer Josephine Baker‘s bold, glam and totally revolutionary sense of style. Read on to learn far more about Josephine’s life and unique style, then check out some outfit tips to aid you channel her look for yourself:
five Facts About Josephine Baker
- Josephine Baker was born Freda Josephine McDonald on June 3rd, 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri. After performing in chorus lines in St. Louis and Harlem, she moved to Paris in 1925 and rapidly gained fame due to her bold dancing and brazen costumes.
- Josephine had a pet cheetah named Chiquita who she employed to take for walks along the streets of Paris. Chiquita even had a fabulous diamond-encrusted collar. (Lucky cat!)
- For the duration of Planet War II, Josephine worked as a spy for the French resistance. She relayed data overheard among German officers during her performances and exposed French officials secretly working for the Germans. It was also rumoured that she smuggled secret documents written in invisible ink on her sheet music. After the war, Josephine was awarded the Croix de guerre (the French military honor) for her service.
- Josephine was a strong supporter of the American Civil Rights Movement and racial equality. More than the course of her life, she adopted two daughters and ten sons of various nationalities and races. She referred to her household as an “experiment in brotherhood” and the “Rainbow Tribe.”
- In 1975, Josephine celebrated 50 years in show enterprise with a retrospective revue in Paris. Just four days after the show, Josephine suddenly passed away due to a cerebral hemorrhage. She was the 1st American woman to receive full French military honors at her funeral.
Josephine’s Style 101
- Art Deco. Josephine’s success occurred alongside the rise of the Art Deco movement in Paris, so naturally, her style was influenced by that time period and vice versa. Sleek lines and geometrc shapes are the epitome of Art Deco and Josephine acted as a muse for the movement with every thing from her clothing selections to her slicked-down hairdos. Spend tribute to Josephine by rocking a few pieces of Art Deco-inspired jewelry, or attempt some fun Art Deco nail art.
- Wild side. Josephine also had a bold and entirely fearless sense of style. Who else could perform in small much more than a skirt created out of bananas (yes, bananas) and make it look great?! The next time you are wary of testing out a bold new trend, take a cue from Josephine and just go for it.
- Accessories overload. When it comes to accessories, we usually try to follow that age-old adage “less is more,” but in Josephine’s eyes, a lot more was definitely more. She paired ropes of pearls, door-knocker earrings and oversized cocktail rings together and always looked glamorous and not at all over-the-best. And of course, no Josephine-inspired look would be total without having an elaborate hair accessory. Attempt a turband or jeweled headpiece for a modern day day interpretation.
Outfits for Inspiration
Outfit #1: Decked Out Art Deco
Product Information: Ring- Tarina Tarantino, Necklace- Forever 21, Dress- ModCloth, Jeweled Headpiece- Urban Outfitters, Shoes- Steve Madden, Earrings- Bloomingdale’s
Outfit #two: Josephine Goes to the Beach
Product Information: Sunglasses- Wet Seal, Bikini- H&M, Turband- Nasty Gal, Sarong- Debenhams, Sandals- BC Footwear
Outfit #three: A Tribute to Chiquita
Item Info: Clutch- Akira, Dress- ASOS, Headband- Nasty Gal, Earrings- Forever 21, Shoes- Zara, Bracelet- ModCloth
What do you consider?
Do you uncover Josephine’s style inspiring? What do you think of her look? Would you put on any of these outfits? Let me know what you believe by leaving a comment below!
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