Madam C.J. Walker was born in 1867, two years after the civil war ended. She was a daughter of a slave. She had no formal education. Both her parents died by the time she was seven. Yet, by the time she died in 1919 at age 51, she was one of the most successful businesswomen America had ever seen.
Madam Walker was a woman who transformed herself in a very American, rags-to-riches way.
To her credit, Madam Walker discerned that black women wanted to conform to white Victorian models of beauty. She was aware of the double- sidedness of her products - helping black women appear more European in look, with straight hair - but she always maintained that she was simply selling products that promoted hair growth.
She used her wealth and philanthropy to contribute to Black schools and colleges, she gave the largest gift the NAACP had ever received to it's anti-lynching fund... Madam Walker's life was one of transformation and re-invention.
Gift giving is one of the oldest forms of human interaction. It is a behaviour all cultures and all classes share.
Suits are malevolent magicians' sleeves for socialists, full of patrician loops and tricks, small, embroidered, cryptic messages of deference and privilege. They are ever the uniform of the enemy. They are also the greatest British invention ever.
A cravat is the only item of named after Croatians. Balkan mercenaries were brought to Paris by Louis XIV. Their strange and exotic attire attracted the French bon hommes, who were wearing formal ruffs, and who immediately took to the simple and relaxed military cloth tied at the neck.
No British TV company could ever make a series like 'The West Wing' about British politics. It would beggar credibility. No one could write it with a straight face, or perform it without giggling.
Personal adornment is the only cultural form that everybody in the world takes part in.
A tremendous social responsibility comes with being a successful public performer.