+  Edited and photographed by Iké Udé, author of Style File. Selected as one of Vanity Fair’s 2009, 2012 and 2015 International Best Dressed Originals.  +

elements of style #37/JOSEPHINE BAKER, circa 1920s



The star, circa, 1920s


Josephine Baker was an American-born French dancer, singer, and actress. She became a citizen of France in 1937. Fluent in both English and French, Baker became an international style, musical and entertainment icon.


She is also noted for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States; she assisted the French Resistance during World War II and was the first American-born woman to receive the French military honor, the Croix de guerre.


She was massively influential during Jazz Age and her refreshingly graceful image and style had a major impact on how icons such as Coco Chanel, Edith Piaf to artists such Jean Cocteau, Man Ray and the general public. Her style still informs how women dressed then and now—the sleek hairstyles, bold jewelry or cloche hats.


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