Tag Archives: Josephine Baker

The Costume Designer Zig

The costume designer Zig was the pen-name of one of the great artists  for the Paris music hall in the Jazz Age. Prolific as an illustrator, creating artwork for posters, programme covers and sheet music, Zig also created stunning sets and costumes with a tremendous flair and originality from the mid to late 1920s and early 1930s, before dying at an early age in 1936. He must not to be confused with another illustrator called Zig Brunner.

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Les Acacias, Night-Club, Paris

The Acacias night-club was a hall at the rear of the Hotel Acacias sited at 47 Rue des Acacias near the Bois de Bologne with a garden utilized for the summer. It was one of the many night-resorts in Paris in the Jazz Age that became a favoured rendezvous of high society throughout the 1920s. The roster of performers who appeared at Les Acacias was astonishing, providing a veritable Who’s Who of glittering international stars of stage and cabaret.

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Fernando (Sonny) Jones

Fernando (Sonny) Jones was an intriguing, if somewhat elusive, black performer who made his life and career in Europe and especially in Paris in the 1920s.  He was an accomplished dancer and made it big headlining in the Palace Theatre show Paris Voyeur in Paris in the 1925-1926 season. Throughout his career he was closely linked to Louis Douglas, another high profile black artist.

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Marie Woods in La Revue Negre, Paris, 1925

The enigmatic Afro-American dancer Marie Woods appeared in the original line up of the famous La Revue Negre in Paris in 1925. This unique photograph shows her in costume from the show.

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Erna Carise

Erna Carise

I particularly love an art deco sketch by Erna Carise from 1927 that I discovered in one of my Parisian magazines simply called ‘Jazz’. So I decided to do a little digging and discovered that she had been a rather glamorous dancer and songstress in Paris, Berlin and New York from the late 1920s through to the 1940s and also had a talent as a costume designer or artist.

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The Incomparable Joe Zelli

The Incomparable Joe Zelli

Joe Zelli, sometimes called the King of Cabaret Keepers, was undoubtedly one of the best-known and most popular characters in Montmartre during the 1920s and his nightclub the Royal Box was a firm favourite not just with visiting Americans but all nationalities out for a good time.

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Fowler and Tamara

Fowler and Tamara

Addison Fowler and Florenz Tamara were undoubtedly one of America’s leading exponents of ballroom dancing in the mid 1920s through the early 1930s. Although they had an extensive repertoire it was Spanish themed dances that made their name and the fact that they looked good and had a great knack of wearing deliciously evocative costumes.

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Miss Florence

Miss Florence

The stunningly beautiful and dark haired ‘Miss Florence’ startled Parisian audiences as a member of the Gertrude Hoffman troupe in 1924 when she came on stage on an elephant as the Queen of Sheba. She became a popular celebrity in her own right, before teaming with Julio Avarez in a dancing partnership that proved highly successful mainly in New York and Miami cabarets in the 1930s.

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The London Casino

The London Casino

The Prince Edward Theatre on Old Compton Street, named after Edward Prince of Wales, opened on the 3rd April 1930 on the site of a drapers business called The Emporium. The area was soon to be known as London’s Quarter Latin now simply Soho and the venue later became The London Casino. The exterior was in the style of an Italian Palace, and the foyer pure art deco. The auditorium was on two levels (stalls and dress circle) and seated 1,650. From its inception the shows staged (Rio Rita, Nippy, Fanfare) did not do well and even an appearance of the famous Parisian music hall star Josephine Baker failed to click. After the pantomime Aladdin the theatre was forced to close in January 1935.

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