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Josephine Baker

"Beautiful? It's all a question of luck. I was born with good legs.
As for the rest . . . beautiful, no. Amusing, yes."


It was 1926 and her opening night at Folies Bergère, the most popular dance hall in Paris. Costume designers had presented Josephine Baker with sketch after sketch of the most sumptuous gowns dripping with feathers and jewels. Josephine turned them all down. She wanted something fun. Something different. Feathers wouldn't cut it.

The curtain was raised to reveal a painted backdrop of a jungle with hanging vines over clear, blue water. The drums thumped out a slow, steady beat as Josephine crept behind a fallen tree prop like a graceful tiger about to pounce on its prey. Suddenly, she sprang forward, barefoot and gyrating her hips in whip-cracking speed. Around her waist . . . a girdle hanging with bananas.

The audience stood up and roared with laughter. When she was later asked why she
dressed so silly, Josephine said it was because she wanted people to "shake off their worries the way a dog shakes off his fleas."1 It certainly worked. Women cut their hair short, danced the Charleston, and felt as free as Josephine. Read More>>


Fashion Rebels: Style Icons Who Changed the World through Fashion | Copyright 2016 Carlyn Cerniglia Beccia | Contact