Saturday 8 March 2014

International Womens Day - 8 Most Important Women of the Twenties

For International Women's Day we celebrate eight of our our favourite women of the 1920's (around the time we gained the vote and a little more equality) who were fearless and fabulous. Nearly 100 years on we have no excuses not to be incredible!

Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel - The independent woman who was and still is the most iconic fashion designer of all time. This lady started with nothing and built the super brand that is Chanel today, working every day until her death in 1971. It was she who created the perfume we all wear, the little black dress, the pearl necklaces and gave us freedom in clothing.

Amelia Earhart - The first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean, The first woman to fly across the Atlantic and editor of Aviation at Cosmopolitan magazine. In her in case of death letter she wrote "Please know I am quite aware of the hazards, I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others" Amelia went missing whilst attempting her first round the world flight.

Josephine Baker - the first African American women on film and the most famous woman of the 1920s. She refused to perform in front of segregated audiences and fought racism in America.
May 20th is Josephine Baker day in honour of her civil rights work. She was a humanitarian, red cross nurse during WW11, a fabulous entertainer and died just a few days after her last performance.

Greta Garbo - the woman who had the strength to walk away. The most famous actress in Hollywood, the highest paid actor at MGM and shunned the Oscars even when nominated. At the perfect time Greta turned on her heel and walked away from it all leaving her status in the world legendary to this day. Hers is a lesson in 'anti' fame and the power of mystery.

Dianna Vreeland - The fabulous Dianna Vreeland. Inspirational, enthusiastic and imaginative fashion editor of Harper Bazaar whom we could say made the golden age of magazines.
In the 1920s she owned a lingerie boutique in London and sold Wallis Simpson the nightgown that bought down the crown. Harper Bazaar
Later she became curator at the Met Museum promoting fashion as an art form in sumptuous exhibitions that aroused all the senses putting fashion design on the highest of pedestals. A wonderful, wonderful woman who transcended age and beauty to inspire and encourage designers and creatives to this day.

Ida B.Wells - Born a slave Ida B.Wells was an African American women's rights campaigner, civil rights activist and investigative journalist. In 1884 Ida refused to give up her seat in a segregated railroad car 71 years before Rosa Parks and went on to sue the company. She wrote and lectured around the world on lynchings after her friends were murdered in Memphis and was the first black woman to write for a mainstream newspaper. She helped all women gain the vote in the UK and USA.

Alice Guy - unsung first female film director with 427 film credits between 1896 and 1920 (imdb). Alice was the first and only woman to this date to own and manage her film studio, The Solax Company. Sadly she was forgotten and following a divorce never made a film again. This lady seriously needs some recognition and her films reviving.

Eleanor Roosevelt - Outspoken First lady and wife of president Franklin D Roosevelt. Eleanor used her position to campaign for human rights and humanitarian work. She oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and was appointed chairwoman of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women under Kennedy. A vocal supporter of the civil rights movement inviting hundreds of African Americans to the White House against protocol at the time. She spoke out against Anti Japanese prejudice after Pearl Harbour and was named one of the most esteemed women in the world by the New York Times. A highly inspirational woman.

There are so many more people who could have been added to this list but we think this is a good and glamorous start. Please do read more about each one of them as they had incredibly interesting lives.

Reading List:

Coco Chanel: The Legend and the life by Justine Picardie 
Amelia Earhart The Sound of Wings by Mary S. Lovell
Josephine Baker - Josephine: The Dazzling Life of by Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson
Garbo - The Divine Garbo by Frederick Sands and  Sven Broman
Diana Vreeland by Eleanor Dwight Mary S. Lovell
Ida B Wells - Crusade for Justice by Ida B Wells
Alice Guy Blache - Whitney Museum of American Art 
Eleanor Roosevelt - You learn by Living 11 Keys for a more Fulfilling life