The iconic Josephine Baker was the focal point and honoree of the Dior spring fashion show.
At the age of 19, the American-born jazz singer, dancer, actress and civil rights activist moved to Paris to get not only away from the racial tension in the U.S., but to pursue her dreams in show biz. Her career grew in France after performing in the successful show The Negre Review. She went on to become the first African-American woman to star in a major film among many other great accomplishments.
Known for being draped in unforgettable sequin dresses, furs, feathers, jewels and risqué Shepherdess Follies costumes when performing, she was also one of fashion designer Christian Dior’s favorite customers spending more than $250,000 on the couture fashions according to The Guardian.
Although Baker was born in Missouri, the St. Louis native lived the majority of her life in France. While living in Europe she became close friends with Dior who viewed her as a muse for his work. A lover of high-end fashion, she often purchased items for her wardrobe from Madeleine Vionnet and Pierre Balmain as well.
During the recent Dior Haute fashion show, large portraits of the jazz singer, along with other influential Black women including Eartha Kitt and Nina Simoneby the American artist Mickalene Thomas were installed in the Musée Rodin in Parison and served as the backdrop for the runway.
In 2021, Baker broke another barrier decades after her death when was given France’s highest honor when she became the first black woman to be inducted into the Pantheon of French heroes, a civic building that serves as a repository for the remains of great French citizens.