Let me introduce to you 'America's first celebrity fashion designer' - Aviator Amelia Earhart. This is where fashion mass marketing began some 70+ years ago.
Often thought of by the public as "Lindy in drag" (after famed aviator Charles Lindberg), Earhart was boyish, freckeled faced with her short hair, thin build; devoid of hips and breasts. She had no interest in feminine fashion but her manager/husband, publisher George Putnam, vowed to 'glam-up' this American female idol. Earhart sported a lovely smile, bright blue eyes, blonde wavy hair, and that willowy, model like physique. With the help of a make-up artist, well tailored clothes, and hair stylist, Earhart was transformed into the epitomy of androgynous chic.
After Earhart's solo flight across the Atlantic in May 20-21, 1931, Earhart and Putnam searched for ways to raise money for the aviatrix's next venture while promoting her image as a national heroine. The high-flying Mrs. and husband decided to focus on fashion. At that time, American designers were not world-wide celebrities like their high-fashioned Paris counterparts. Even the highest-end U.S. fashions bared the manufactors label only. After convincing the U.S. Rubber Company to back them, Amelia Earhart Fashions debuted in 1934.
Her line of clothes were offered in special Amelia Earhart shops in a single department store per city (in New York, Macy's and in Chicago, Marshall Field's). The label, sewn into each garment, featured the aviatrix's signature in black with a thin red line streaking through it to a little red plane soaring in the right corner. Earhart told one newspaper that she nearly always incorporated in the styles "something characteristic of aviation, a parachute cord or tie or belt, a ball-bearing belt buckle, wing bolts and nuts for buttons. Despite a blizzard of publicity, Earhart fashion failed to catch on with the public, and the line disappeared from America's stores even before the aviatrix vanished.
Jean Paul Gaultier conjured up this non-traditional woman as his muse for his Fall 2009 line for Hermes. At the Hermes show in Paris last March, models wore aviator hats and goggles with the clothes, as the roar of prop-plane engines set up beyond the catwalk filled the air.
Sadly enough Gaultier told the Associated Press, "I was inspired by a woman, I forgot her name, an American pilot with very short, wavy hair who was wearing an aviator jacket, which I love, and a little scarf that was so Hermes."
Was she the best woman pilot of her era? It's been written that some said no, there were better. There is no doubt, however, that the world will always remember Amelia Earhart for her courage, vision, and groundbreaking achievements, both in aviation and for women.
In a letter to her husband, written in case a dangerous flight proved to be her last, this brave spirit was evident. "Please know I am quite aware of the hazards," she said. "I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others."
Starting at the age of 22, Earhart began 'shaving' off a year of her age, not stopping there.
Earhart's biographer Susan Butler wrote that Amelia often flew wearing men's underpants. Apparently supperior to a womans for a 'quick pee'.
George Putnam reportedly had to propose six times to Earhart before she accepted; even then, she referred to the union as a “partnership” with “dual control.”
Amelia was the 16th woman to receive a pilot's license from the FAI (License No. 6017).
"As a sex, women seem to regard matrimony as a highly honorable retreat from business failure ... They think they are after freedom, but what I'm afraid they want is lack of responsibility ... Mr. Putnam thinks idleness is the greatest curse of married women."
Sims soon made friends with numerous families on the island, frequently discussing the disappearance of Amelia Earhart with the older members. He soon noticed that few people were comfortable openly discussing the aviatrix’ disappearance.
On one visit, Sims brought his wife with him and as part of a tour of the island, the two were shown Garapan Prison. They were taken to a cell that they were told once held Amelia Earhart. Sims took copious photos of the jail.
After all, times are changing and women need the critical stimulus of competition outside the home. A girl must nowaways believe completely in herself as an individual. She must realize at the outset that a woman must do the same job better than a man to get as much credit for it. She must be aware of the various discriminations, both legal and traditional, against women in the business world.