Thursday, June 4, 2009

Nancy Cunard

As you may already know, I love history. I am my daddy's girl in this way. It was my favorite subject in school along with English. I believe we can learn so much from the people and events of our past, both the great and horrible. I specifically enjoy researching women in history. I like to know what made them good or bad, where they came from, what impact they made, and even...what they wore.

I've acquired a long list of fashion icons from days gone by whose lives and styles I'd like to investigate. Some are quite well-known, some not so much. I might even throw in an iconic fictional character every now and then, just for fun. I intend to feature at least one person every month.

Some of the individuals I'm drawn to have humble beginnings, while others were born to fame and fortune. But they all have a few traits in common (the P's): passion, perseverance, panache, and often had major problems.

I'm going to kick off this new series with one you might be familiar with if knowledgable about the rebels of the early 20th century. Nancy Cunard. Check out that jewelry. Check out that eyeliner.

Her home was an English Castle, but a life of wealth was not the destiny of rebelious Nancy Cunard. Born heiress to the Cunard shipping fortune, Nancy loathed what her family's class represented and instead dedicated her life to civil rights and anti-fascist movements.

She was a poet, publisher, translator, journalist and self-described anarchist. But she didn't just fight for the oppressed in her writings. She established shelters for concentration camp survivors, walked alongside refugees, and braved battlefronts in hopes that the world would see the injustices taking place and do something about it.

Despite all her goodwill, Nancy could not escape her own demons. Much of her life was spent fighting lonelines, insecurity and poor heath. Alchoholism magnified an underlying mental illness that ultimately landed her in an institution in 1960. She died poor, starving, and alone in Paris in 1963.

I doubt Nancy considered herself in a fashionable way. It's just simply who she was. Apparently, one can be a superstar humanitarian, a journalistic artist, be clinically insane, AND wear bangles like THAT.

Good to know.


Girly Muse said...

Wow. Very good to know. Makes me want to go buy some bangles.

Steve said...

I like your history posts the best. Feels like I'm learning something more useful than just "No white pants after Labor Day".

Anonymous said...

Is it my imagination or does she look a little bit like Katie? Estelle

Jilliebeanie said...

There is something familiar....