george-hoyningen-huene-and-andrew-macphersonA pioneer for African American women, Josephine Baker is commonly associated with her seductive banana dance performance at the Folies Bergère, costumed in a skimpy skirt constructed with a string of artificial bananas. When racial prejudice proved to hinder to her career, Baker moved East; first, to New York and then Paris, where Baker would ultimately achieve great success as a cabaret performer and later as an actress. The bohemian culture of interwar Paris embraced Baker’s skin color, allowing her to catapult to stardom. In 1929, neoclassic photographer George Hoyningen-Huene would capture “the black Venus” standing tall and in a state of dishabille with her metallic dress all but covering her nude figure. In 1988, photographer Andrew MacPherson undoubtedly looked to Baker’s well-known portrait when photographing another groundbreaking woman of color, Iman, for the September issue of Vogue Paris.

Josephine Baker by George Hoyningen-Huene, 1929

Iman by Andrew MacPherson in “Les Nuits d’ Iman” for Vogue Paris September, 1988

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