Crochet #JosephineBaker by #SuzyDias. The power of the banana skirt!

A crochet Josephine Baker in all of her Amigurumi Banana Skirt Glory!

I want to devote some time to creating amigurumi versions of my favorite entertainers and historical figures. So why not start with the larger than life — Josephine Baker. She was an entertainer, civil rights activist, war hero and mother. She broke racial barriers throughout her life and never lost her warmth and sense of humor.

The best place to start was with Josephine Baker’s most iconic look: straight hair that’s slicked down in curls that perfectly frame her lovely face.

I made her as a gift for the ever fabulous Ricki Stevenson, the founder of Black Paris Tours. She’s a huge Josephine Baker fan and I knew she would appreciate it. If you’re ever in Paris and want to learn something new, I highly recommend signing up… as long as you enjoy walking tours and veering off the beaten track. This description is straight from her website…

“Black Paris Tours takes you to the hang outs, haunts and places made famous by African American musicians, soldiers, writers, artists, historians, celebrities, and political exiles. From the 1800s to World War One, and from the days of the Harlem Renaissance, to the 1970s, they came to Paris fleeing racism in America.” [more from Black Paris Tours…]

Josephine Baker takes Paris by storm!

In the summer of 1925, Paris had a newfound obsession with jazz and anything exotic. People flocked to see Josephine Baker perform at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. As she descended from a palm tree wearing her now famous banana skirt, she became the biggest black female star in the world over night.

Josephine Baker was so popular in France, she sold her own beauty products including Bakerfix hair pomade for that slick down look and even Bakeroil skin-darkening lotion all over Europe. Yes, indeed. European women were darkening their skin to look like their idol.

Josephine Baker's Baker Fix and Bakeroil

France fell in love with Josephine

There’s more to Josephine Baker than being a cutting edge, well toned entertainer with a dazzling smile.

“When World War II broke out, Baker joined the French Resistance, helping to smuggle out refugees and carrying messages written in invisible ink on her sheet music. She entertained troops and performed benefit concerts in North Africa and the Middle East.” [more from Black History Now…]

“In fact, her fame made her the perfect spy. When Baker would travel Europe while touring, she obviously had to carry large quantities of sheet music with her. What customs officials never realized, though, was that a lot of this music actually had secret messages written on it in invisible ink…On some occasions, Baker would smuggle secret photos of German military installations out of enemy territory by pinning them to her underwear. This invaluable intelligence work eventually helped Baker rise to the rank of lieutenant in the Free French Air Force, and when the war was over she received both the Croix de Guerre (a first for an American woman) and the Medal of the Resistance in 1946 from French General Charles de Gaulle”, who later became the President of France. [more from Mental Floss…]

“During the 1950s and 1960s, she supported and became active in the Civil Rights Movement. When she briefly returned to the United States, Baker insisted on having a nondiscrimination clause in her contracts, and only agreed to perform in front of integrated audiences. Whereas Baker was previously dejected by racism, she was now defiant. She refused to kowtow to racial discrimination and provided a voice for those who suffered at the hands of prejudice. Baker also began working closely with the NAACP and the organization named her Most Outstanding Woman of the Year in 1951. The NAACP also declared May 20, 1951 Josephine Baker Day.”[more from Visionary Artist Magazine…]

“During the 1950s, Baker frequently returned to the United States to lend her support to the Civil Rights Movement, participating in demonstrations and boycotting segregated clubs and concert venues. In 1963, Baker participated, alongside Martin Luther King Jr., in the March on Washington, and was among the many notable speakers that day.” As well as the only woman speaker.  [more from Biography…]

Crochet Josephine Baker Doll

OK, enough with the history lesson. Here is my very first (but not the last) Josephine Baker! I learned a lot along the way and I already have a few improvements in mind. I’m also looking for tiny jewelry. Using the right accessories will make her absolutely fabulous!

Crochet Josephine Baker by Suzy Dias

Crochet Josephine Baker by Suzy Dias

Crochet Josephine Baker by Suzy Dias

Crochet Josephine Baker by Suzy Dias

Crochet Josephine Baker by Suzy Dias

As I mentioned, I first created the doll, then I added custom clothes so everything would fit just right.

Crochet Josephine Baker by Suzy Dias

Crochet Josephine Baker by Suzy Dias

Pets? Future Versions? Custom Orders?

In the future, I’d like to create multiple outfits for her to wear. I can even make her pet cheetah named Chiquita! That’s right, folks — a cheetah. And then there’s her goat named Toutoute and her pet pig named Albert. But perhaps I’ll stop here.

Contact

To contact me or any requests, please click here. I’d love to hear from you.

Related Links

Black Paris Tours

“90 Years Later, the Radical Power of Josephine Baker’s Banana Skirt” from Vogue

“Josephine Baker, The Activist Entertainer” from Biography

“Josephine Baker” from Black History Now

“5 Things You Didn’t Know About Josephine Baker” from Mental Floss

“Josephine Baker: Vive la Révolution” from Visionary Artist Magazine

 

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