les mis across history 2017: i

At half past six the weather feels pleasant from the upper balcony of the bistro, a calm after the heat of day. For now the sky is blue and a light breeze cools when one even thinks she is too warm for comfort. It is a rare thing for the city: an hour ago it was sweltering.

Fantine nonetheless keeps her lace parasol tilted delicately above her blonde head, her white lace summer gown buttoned up her throat, and her gloves fastened at her wrists: a portrait of modesty which Favourite, Dahlia, and Zéphine had likened that morning to an illustration from the Ladies Home Journal. But one thing has changed since five o'clock in the morning: now she is hatless; she holds it by the ribbons in one hand and rests her chin on the other, dreamy and absentminded. When her companions lean from the balcony to call to streetgoers on the boulevard and diners on the patio below, she declines to partake, restless. Thirty minutes ago the game was fun, she laughed with them, made little comments; now she is impatient.

A surprise, she thinks, ought not take so long when a man can drive his Model T to retrieve it.


19 Black women you need to know about who broke boundaries and made beauty history

1. Madam C.J. Walker

Hair loss sparked Madam C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove) to develop a line of hair-care products just for African-American women in the early 1900s — and her entrepreneurial efforts led her to become one of the first female self-made millionaires in America.

2. Naomi Sims

After appearing on the November cover of Ladies’ Home Journal the year before, Sims made headlines when she graced the cover of LIFE magazine in 1969 — the first Black model to do so.

3. Beverly Johnson

American Vogue made history with its August 1974 cover featuring
Beverly Johnson, who was the first Black woman to hold the honor. Johnson told NPR of the moment: “I realized that this was a huge responsibility that was placed on my shoulders as a way of really breaking the color barrier in the fashion industry.”

4. Tracey Norman

Tracey “Africa” Norman was the first Black transgender model to land a major cosmetics campaign. In the mid-1970s, she snagged a contract with hair color brand Clairol. Norman didn’t disclose that she was transgender at the time out of fear it might damage her career.

5. Lisa Price

In 1993, Lisa Price began developing hair and skin products out of her Brooklyn kitchen alongside her mother Carol. The now wildly popular brand, Carol’s Daughter, caters especially to women with natural, curly textures.


Comfort, not fashion, should be the main thought in clothes for the woman of seventy, and the chief note to remember is that the individuality of an elderly woman must never be lost, either in the type or gown or in the color schemes which she wears.
—  Mrs. Ralston, “How I Dress My Mother at Seventy,” Ladies Home Journal, (March 1912), and from what I can tell, few women made it to 70 in 1912. This article is fascinating, so I will be quoting for it a few more times.

Jim Morrison, magician, by Frank Bez. 

A women’s magazine, and I think it might have been Ladies Home Journal, one of those really straight-laced places, had written an article about him. They’d done an interview, and he had mentioned to them that he had a way of talking to girls that just made them levitate. So that was the assignment: Shoot him with a levitating girl.

When we got together, he said, “I haven’t got a clue how to do it.” So I said, “I know some guys. Maybe they can help us.”

There’s a place in L.A. called the Magic Castle. It’s what you’d call a mansion, up in the hills in Hollywood. It’s a club for magicians. So I came up and said, “Can you direct me to someone who specializes in levitation?” They put me in touch with a guy, and he said, “Well, I’ll tell you how to do it, but I’ll kill you if you tell anyone else.”

Here’s what I did: I had to build a rig to do this shot. It was a steel-constructed device. I had to go to a welding shop and fit it behind Jim. It projected out in front of him, and there was a platform with a pad, which I put the model on. We got this really straight-laced Middle America type, and we had her floating in front of him with his hands.

He was a little skeptical when we did the levitation thing, because he felt he was pushed in the corner for making that comment. But once we solved the problem, he was into it. He was more outgoing, and I never saw the difficult part of his life because we just had good times.