Here at Fabrics Galore, we love sharing inspiring stories from strong women in our industry. To celebrate the return of our Frida Kahlo prints we thought we would take a moment to celebrate some really inspirational women from the past and present. To start with, let’s talk about the icon that is Frida Kahlo…
Frida Kahlo was born on the 6th July in Mexico City in 1907. Sadly, throughout her life she suffered from poor health contracting Polio at 6 years old, then later she was also injured in a traffic accident. Whilst recovering, she painted her body cast and finished her first ever self-portrait.
In 1928 Frida married Diego Rivera and travelled around the world with him as he worked on various paintings. It was an unusual marriage as they were sometimes living apart and there were numerous affairs on both sides. She longed for children, but the accident prevented this, which led to numerous paintings expressing her feelings, including the Henry Ford Hospital painting in 1932.
In 1938 Kahlo was recognised as a Surrealist artist and exhibited in New York and then Paris the following year. She unfortunately divorced Rivera that year (but not for long, they remarried the next year) and painted maybe her most famous painting: The Two Fridas.
Through chronic pain, ill health and the loss of her father in 1941, Kahlo’s work continued to grow in popularity leading to a solo exhibit in Mexico in 1953. But after this she declined into a depression and passed away a week before her 47th birthday at her beloved Blue House.
Fridamania has grown in the past few decades as she stands as a figure of resilience against patriarchal oppression, adversity and is now a cult figure in the queer community. It all started with a 1983 biography and the 2002 movie and she more recently became known as a feminist icon who overcame challenges throughout her life. We love Frida, which is why we have an entire collection dedicated to her and her incredible work.
For more fun facts and details of Frida Kahlo’s fascinating life story, we have another blog with all the details and if you look carefully on each Frida print, there is a fact for you to enjoy too. (Just to help you on the next pub quiz).
Now as much as we love Frida Kahlo there is another woman we would like to celebrate, Josephine Baker. There are rumours that these two did meet in 1939 when Frida Kahlo was in Paris and Josephine Baker was performing.
The incredible Josephine Baker, born in 1906 in Missouri, really worked on a variety of things in her life. She started as a dancer in the Harlem Renaissance, where her success took her to Paris where she became the most sought-after dancer in Europe. From there, she became a spy and a civil rights campaigner.
When World War Two started, Josephine joined the fight against Hitler. Fer fame allowed her to pass secrets she heard whilst performing in front of Nazi superiors, written in invisible ink, on music sheets which she passed onto the French Resistance. When she finally returned home to America she was faced with segregation, but Josephine refused to perform to segregated audiences. By 1963 she was one of the few women chosen to speak before Martin Luther King at the March on Washington where he gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.
Josephine Baker is still just as iconic to this day. In her famous Danse Savage, she danced in a skirt made of fabric bananas. In Prada’s 2011 collection, inspired by Baker, they had shirts printed with a similar banana print. At Fabrics Galore, our banana leaf print fabrics could be a lovely homage too and after last week's Sewing Bee, we all know that soft furnishing cottons can be used for dressmaking too.
But maybe the funniest fact about Baker was her extensive list of pets, starting with a cheetah called Chiquita who had a diamond necklace. The best we can do fabric-wise is our wonderful Leopard on Prowl fabric, but at least the leopards are in gold! She was also known to have a pig called Albert (who wore perfume and got so big that the door frame had to be taken off to get him out the door) and a goat named Toutoute, as well as snakes, dogs, a chimpanzee, parrots and parakeets. Again, the best we can do is some great animal prints!
Unfortunately, Baker died in 1975 at the age of 68 whilst surrounded by newspapers raving about her performance in a retrospective named ‘Josephine a Bonino’.
Inspirational women in fabric today
If we look to the present day, we find that two of our most recognisable British and Irish designers are in fact women: look no further than Cath Kidston and Orla Kiely. We love Cath Kidston’s range of modern vintage fabrics and Orla Kiely’s fabrics inspired by the geometry she perceives in nature.
Wonder Woman Fabric
In case we were getting too serious about all the inspirational women in fabric, here’s one to lighten the mood. In our range of novelty quilting fabrics check out the fabulous Wonder Woman fabric – definitely designed with all the strong girls in your life in mind.
About Fabrics Galore
At Fabrics Galore, we have a variety of stunning fabrics for you to choose from, which can be used in dressmaking, quilting, craft and furnishing. You can have a browse of our stunning range of designs or you can call us on 020 7738 9589, where our team would be more than happy to answer any questions or queries you may have regarding our fabrics.