A Look At Shirley Chisholm’s Unapologetic Style

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As America celebrated Hillary Clinton as the first female presidential nominee for a major party, some people were quick to remind the public of the legendary Shirley Chisholm.

Chisholm got her start in politics in 1968 as the first Black Congresswoman and later was the first female of African descent to run for the United States presidency. She was not selected for the 1972 Democratic bid, but her brave run broke barriers. “She was our Moses that opened the Red Sea for us,” said the President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Robert E. Williams of the politician.

Aside from making monumental firsts, Chisholm was an advocate for better education and employment opportunities for minorities, and she opposed the 1969 U.S. military draft. She was also an ardent feminist who helped influence America’s second-wave feminism movement.

William Howard, Chisholm’s former campaign treasurer, described her personality as,“ Anyone that came in contact with her, they had a feeling of a careness, and they felt that she was very much a part of each individual as she represented her district.” As she advocated for progress, Chisholm also had to deal with hate and criticism for being a Black female politician, which she battled with a clear mind and passion.

What’s also memorable about Chisholm was her political fashions. Just like her beliefs and policies, her form of dressing was unflappable.

Chisholm’s Fashion

Throughout her career, Chisholm sported a sculpted bouffant, cat-eye glasses, and ladylike suits. The politician often embraced bright colors and prints, which ranged from a classic white 1960s boxy skirt suit to a silken ensemble accessorized with a bundle of pearls. “She always wore suits, little suits…I say little suits because she was a small woman…I don’t think she wore pants,” Congresswoman Yvonne Brathwaite Burke recalled about Shirley’s wardrobe. “ I remember she always ordered her clothes. We didn’t have Internet at the time, but she always ordered them over various manufacturers.”

Throughout her time in American politics, Chisholm did not hide her femininity.  Instead, she understood and kept her own personal style despite the political and social repercussions of being a Black woman in American politics.

Three years after her death in 2008, artist Kadir Nelson painted a portrait of Chisholm. She is depicted standing in a three-quarter stance with her arms crossed and her index finger raised. This piece is noted for its display of the Congresswoman’s firm manner, but it also illustrates her colorful taste in clothing. In a similar manner to Chisholm’s style, painted is a structured 1960s suit set in a blue and white geometric pattern. Also displayed is her signature bouffant and cat-eye glasses, which added to Chisholm’s no-nonsense look.

To learn more about Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, visit her page at the History, Art, and Archives of the US House of Representatives website.

Christian Lacroix’s Aristocratic Muse

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Marie Seznec was known as the couture client liaison for Christian Lacroix, but she had another role that was just as important, one of a grey-haired muse. “I found my first grey hair when I was just 14,” she said. “ All my family had grey hair; my parents, grandparents, my brothers and sisters. Because I was the youngest of a family of five I wasn’t shocked at all.”

Born and raised in Brittany, Seznec’s first introduction to the industry was through her family’s boutique. “I loved fashion and I liked staring into the store’s windows,” Seznec said. “Although my parents worked in the fashion business, they were also artists. My father drew all the time, and my mother embroidered.”

After childhood, Seznec went to study fashion at Studio Bercot. While as a student, she was spotted by an editor of Elle France. This editor had her photographed for the magazine’s 1982 December issue, which attracted the modeling agency, Marilyn.

Speaking about her qualifications as a model, Seznec said, “At 5’-6” I wasn’t very tall compared to other models in the ‘80s who were at least 5’-8”. Today you have to be 6 feet!”

Her grey hair paired with her youthful, beautiful face attracted high-end designers, and she found work with Thierry Mugler, Hermes, and Yohji Yamamoto. Her unique look even caught the attention of Christian Lacroix, then at the couture house Jean Patou.

The first time she appeared on a Patou runway, Lacroix ordered hairdresser Alexandre de Paris to make Seznec into a modern-day Madame de Pompadour, which was later recreated for the cover of W.

A friendship between Lacroix and Seznec traveled from his time at Patou to his own personal couture line. She worked as both a fit and fashion model for the house and was an essential part of the line’s image. She later became an ambassador for Lacroix, and even inspired him to give his in-store mannequins grey hair.

Seznec then took a break from the colorful walls of Lacroix’s salon to get married. As expected, her gown was a custom-made satin dress suit made by Lacroix. For the reception, she changed into a powder pink chiffon and taffeta ballgown that was also made by the designer. After spending some time as a married woman, she found herself back to fashion in 1994 and became the Directrice of the designer’s couture salon.

Seznec’s new position held a lot of power because it worked directly with high paying customers. To attract and maintain clients, she used her charming personality and immense knowledge about the brand, which was cultivated through years of experience. She remained in this position until 2009, and at the age of 57, Seznec sadly passed away from cancer.

Seznec’s grey hair while outfitted in Lacroix’s clothing will always be a moment of fashion history where muse and maker combined. However, what may be more important is the relationship between the designer and his trusted friend. Just like her beauty, Seznec and Lacroix’s friendship was one of a kind.

How Cicely Tyson Introduced Natural Hair To Television Audiences

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At Victoria’s Secret last annual fashion show, the American lingerie line debuted a look that had never appeared on their runway before, natural hair. Angolan model Maria Borges walked onto the runway before millions with her hair in its natural state, a short Afro-textured pixie.

This “reveal” was praised by the press, announcing it as a visual step towards accepting more diversity in fashion. However, this wasn’t the first time that a gorgeous woman revealed her natural Afro-textured hair to a watching audience. In the early 1960s, an emerging actress named Cicely Tyson used her natural hair texture to make a loud statement.

It all began when Tyson was selected to perform in a 1960s television production that, according to the actress, “dealt with the emerging African nations.” At the time, Tyson wore her hair straightened but she felt the style was improper for her character. So on the night before the first live production, Tyson went to a barbershop and asked the barber to cut her hair short and dry it to its natural state. Tyson said to Oprah’s Master Class that the barber had to sit down and take a break before he finished the look.

The next day, Tyson arrived with her hair wrapped in a headscarf, and when it was time to film, she dropped the scarf. The crew went silent. Tyson said that you could “hear a hair hit the floor.” The director then walked up to her and said, “Cicely, you cut your hair.” She sheepishly nodded her head and said, yes. He then told her that he wanted her to do it but he never knew if it was appropriate to ask her to cut it.

Tyson’s hair transformation into a short afro was a major beauty statement in the 1960s. This was a time where Black faces were rare, especially with women. If present, they were expected to look “Europeanized,” meaning they had straight hair. Tyson’s simple haircut was a major, and historical, transformation for both beauty and racial history in America. It even sparked a worldwide hair movement.

Although Borges’ hair on Victoria’s Secret runway and Tyson’s haircut in the 1960s are unrelated, the fact that the lingerie model’s hair still makes news is something to think about.

The Southern France Chic Of Renée Perle

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Portrait of Renee Perle by Jacques-Henri Lartigue via The Red List

One of the most fascinating aspects about Renée Perle’s wardrobe was her use of separates as resort wear in 1930s Southern France. Most of the photos taken of Renée by photographer Jacques-Henri Lartigue were in a warm climate, which called for light and airy fabrics. Numerous images feature Renée in a uniform of a crisp short sleeve T-shirt or sleeveless tank paired with loose trousers. While Renée could work a ball gown, she looked as glamorous in a knit top and pants.

Born in Romania to a Jewish family, Renée Perle left Central Europe for the glamor of 1920s Paris. There, she began her career as a model posing for artists. In between 1929 to 1930, Renée met Jacques-Henri Lartigue, who was newly separated from his first wife Bibi, on the Rue de la Pompe. Lartigue found Renée’s large brown eyes and deep tan skin as exotic. He once wondered out loud if she was Mexican, but she corrected him, stating “Romanian…my name is Renée Perle…”

They quickly hit it off and became a couple. Together the couple traveled to the most glamorous place one could be in the 1930s, the South of France. Renée was more than just a pretty girl posing in front of the camera, she created a look that accentuated Lartigue’s aesthetic. In many of their photos together, Renée’s clothing, hair, and makeup are flawless. Her look consisted of Marcel waves, cupid bow lips, dark-painted nails, and multiple bangles around her wrist.

Renée and Lartigue ended their relationship two years after they met. Unfortunately, there is not much known about Renée after her parting with Lartigue, except that she continued her career as a model and ventured into creating her own art. Many of Renée’s pieces were self-portraits, making some people assume that she was obsessed with painting her image. There have been attempts to try to find any of her art pieces, but there has not been any luck. When Renée passed away in the late 1970’s in the South of France some of her jewelry and other belongings were auctioned in 2000 and 2001 at the Parisian auction house Tajan.

Websites like the now-defunct Style.com claimed her as one of their beauty icons, and designers like John Galliano have called her a “Parisian kittenish coquette.” Although she modeled over eighty years ago, the stylish legacy of Renée Perle is unforgettable.

Jane Holzer’s Art Scene Style

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When thinking about a Warhol Star, Edie Sedgwick almost always comes to mind. However, there was another girl about town that shined in Andy Warhol’s eye. Meet Jane Holzer.

Recognized for her swoosh of blonde hair and on-trend style, Jane Holzer is a well-known socialite both on and off the New York art scene. Vogue editor Diana Vreeland once dubbed her, “The most contemporary girl I know.”

Born into a wealthy family, Jane entered fashion society in 1963 as a cover model for British Vogue. Sometime during this period, she met Andy Warhol.

Jane appealed to Warhol because of her hip beauty and wealthy connections. Her work with Warhol consisted of performing in a number of his art films, including the iconic “Screen Test,” which filmed Jane brushing her teeth for over four minutes.

After shooting multiple films with Warhol, Jane left The Factory “between Edie’s arrival and when Andy got shot.” Although she has been affiliated with Warhol, Jane isn’t remembered for the extensive drug use and partying that plagued The Factory. She still had an amicable relationship with Warhol until his 1987 death. In 2014, the Norton Museum of Art held the exhibition “To Jane, Love Andy: Warhol’s First Superstar,” that displayed works of art, fashion, and photography of Jane.

Some may identify her with the name Baby Jane, which is a reference to the 1962 film “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?” It was columnist Carol Bjorkman who gave her the moniker, but for no apparent reason. When asked about her opinion of the nickname, Jane has stated that she “wanted to die” after hearing it.

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Jane Holzer’s Clothing via The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jane’s style in the 1960s was rock n’ roll on 5th Avenue; it was au courant without excessive embellishments. She mixed classic with sexy by wearing a micro mini dress that covered up to her neck or a long-sleeved bodysuit with a revealing back. When paired with her gravity-defying hair and cat-eye makeup, Jane was a striking figure.

Today, Jane continues to sport her signature blonde mane and now wears loose, bohemian gowns. She is still present on the New York art scene and makes a living as a movie producer. Jane has even been seen on the short-lived reality show “Gallery Girls” as a listening ear to socialites in the New York art scene. Although The Factory’s party has ended, it appears Jane’s is still going strong.