When Missouri-born showgirl Josephine Baker shimmied on stage at the Folies Bergère in Paris in 1926, wearing little more than her jewellery and a belt fashioned from 16 rubber bananas, she captivated audiences with her danse sauvage, becoming an instant music-hall star. Dressed
in Balmain and Dior, she went on to perform under the bright lights of the greatest venues, and became an icon of the Jazz Age.

Baker shot by Lucien Waléry in 1927
Baker shot by Lucien Waléry in 1927 © Collection Josephine Baker
Naomi Campbell shot by Peter Lindbergh for Vogue Italia, 1988
Naomi Campbell shot by Peter Lindbergh for Vogue Italia, 1988 © Peter Lindbergh Foundation

Nearly 50 years after her death in 1975, Josephine Baker: Un Destin Extraordinaire has opened at the Salle Saint-Martin in Souillac, Dordogne, close to where Baker and her husband lived with their 12 adopted children and pet cheetah. The exhibition honours Baker’s influence as a performer and civil rights activist, as well as her recent entry into the French Panthéon – the first black woman to receive the honour. It also traces Baker’s impact on art, dance, music, film and fashion from the 1920s to the present, via a mix of costumes, show posters and fashion photography – including Peter Lindbergh’s 1988 photograph of Naomi Campbell, which pays tribute to Baker’s frenetic rhythm, slick cropped haircut and peerless class.

Josephine Baker: Un Destin Extraordinaire is on until 10 September at Salle Saint-Martin, Souillac

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