Today, we’re discovering a sexy, socially conscious coffee-table book called Vintage Black Glamour, which came out in 2014 (and I only just discovered…) having started life as a Tumblr feed created by writer and journalist, Nichelle Gainer.
It’s a treasure trove of rarely seen photographs of Black actors, models, writers and entertainers of the early 20th century – from the legendary to the unsung and the obscure – most of whom rarely appeared in the same publications as their white counterparts.
Although talented, successful and ground-breaking, many of the women in these pages were ignored by mainstream media, but their life’s work and attitude stand as inspiration for us still, today. With its stunning photographs and insightful biographies, this book is a hugely important addition to Black history archives.”
The book starts with an 1891 picture of French horsewoman Selika Lazevski, and ends in 1981 with Sister Sledge. There’s musician Valaida Snow in 1930s London, conducting a white orchestra in thrall to her; Dandridge in the 1950s, striking a pose while her Russian instructor positions her foot; Aretha Franklin backstage in Newark in 1969, eyeliner in one hand, fag in the other, not to mention the vast number of unsung female pioneers, in every facet of the entertainment arena. Not just the stars in movie and theatre, but the wives, the socialites.
What makes Vintage Black Glamour so special are the carefully researched stories that go with each photograph, in most cases. Let’s have a peek…