One of my favourite descriptions of Josephine Baker - Diana Vreeland’s account of running into her and her pet cheetah, Chiquita, in a theatre. Art Deco in its essence:
“Then… the lights went on, and I felt slight movement under my hand. I looked down – and it was a cheetah! And beside the cheetah was Josephine Baker!
‘Oh,’ I said, ‘you’ve brought your cheetah to see the cheetahs!’
‘Yes,’ she said, ‘that’s exactly what I did.’
She was alone with the cheetah on a lead. She was so beautifully dressed. She was wearing a marvelous little short black skirt and a little Vionnet shirt – no sleeves, no back, no front, just crossed bars on the bias. Don’t forget how hot it was, and of couse the great thing was to get out of this theatre we were in. The cheetah, naturally, took the lead, and Josephine, with those long black legs, was dragged down three flights of stairs as fast as she could go, and that was fast.
Out in the street there was an enormous white-and-silver Rolls-Royce waiting for her. The driven opened the door; she let go of the lead; the cheetah whooped, took one leap into the back of the Rolls, with Josephine right behind; the door closed… and they were off!
Ah! What a gesture! I’ve never seen anything like it. It was speed at its best, and style. Style was a great thing in those days.”