Someone outside of Europe, or not very informed about architecture, may not have heard of Zaha Hadid before she passed away suddenly this past week. The inspirational Dame Zaha was a trailblazer for women and architects. In the past few decades, she designed some of the most modern structures in the world.
“Artistry emanated from her entire being” - Felix Duquesnel
How long has theatre been around? Since the ancient Greeks sounds about right, doesn’t it? If you look it up on Wikipedia, a picture of Sarah Bernhardt playing Hamlet will greet you at the top. (You will also find out Chinese theatre may have been around longer than the first stage appearance in the West.)
“An authentic artist.” - Diego Rivera upon seeing her canvases
Time will tell in the long run, but we think Frida Kahlo might be one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Not so much her art, because absolutely no one can replicate her anguish, but her image. Her look is very intentionally striking - her husband Diego Rivera liked her to dress in a traditional Oaxacan style, she kept her facial hair, and she knew she could wear the shit out of a necklace of legs or earrings of hands.
Because of modernized transportation, portable records and movies, Josephine Baker was one of the first transcontinental superstars. Her fame lasted for fifty years - from her first Parisian show in 1925 to her death in 1975. In her career she was famous in Europe and the Americas, but for a while was never quite welcome in the United States.
Although she was originally from the US, Josephine would not be able to enjoy a successful career there because of the harsh racism that persisted. So why was she so well-received in France? Mainly because she arrived when African exoticism and American jazz were de rigueur.
In our humble opinion, having access to the 1920s-based “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” is well worth the price of Netflix. It is an absolute jewel of a show. The star character Phryne Fisher, played by Essie Davis, is the perfect role model for women attempting to be adults. Well, at least for us in the open-minded progressive sort. She does not miss an opportunity to help someone in need, involve herself in a thrilling murder mystery, or have a dalliance with a handsome gentleman. This now defunct Australian TV show is actually based on a book series called The Phryne Fisher Mysteries by Kerry Greenwood. Sadly, the show only lasted for three seasons.
If you take do quick search around internet, you won’t see much interest around Liane de Pougy. She was a renowned French courtesan during the golden era of Paris and was a fierce rival to La Belle Otéro. The most amusing story about Liane was her showdown with Otéro at the fashionable art nouveau restaurant Maxim’s. Liane got word that her nemesis was to dine wearing every jewel she possessed, and Otéro has quite a many. Sapphires. Rubies. Emeralds. Pearls. Diamonds. You name it. Liane showed up to Maxim’s soon after La Belle Otéro’s arrival wearing a simple white frock and exactly one diamond at her throat. The real shade was that her maid struggled to walk in behind her because the rest of Liane’s jewelry was sat heavily on a pillow. You know how French people like to snark, so news of that event must have reached the farthest arrondissements by noon the following day.
This rare photo set of the dancer/courtesan La Belle Otéro on the NY Times “Splendeurs et Misères” article shows off this woman’s enviable, and very likely painful, hourglass figure. This woman is shaped like a wasp! Her measurements were 38-21-36. Her closest physical twin from Hollywood’s golden era would probably be Jayne Mansfield (40-21-35). Where’s a corset when you need one?