|Ozma, as depicted by John R. Neill in 1907's Ozma of Oz.|
It's high time to feature another style icon on this blog. The last one was Norma Talmadge, which I posted over a year ago. This style icon goes way back to my childhood. I have no doubt that John R. Neill's Oz illustrations helped shape my aesthetic and my penchant for Art Nouveau. For a little background: W. W. Denslow illustrated The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900, but John R. Neill took over and illustrated the rest of L. Frank Baum's 14 books. After Baum died, other authors took over and Neill illustrated those too, and even managed to write three Oz books of his own. Although he drew timeless fantasy characters, they were quite fashionable. In 1907, Dorothy sported a chic blond bob and Ozma was an Art Nouveau beauty that could rival Alphonse Mucha's subjects.
One of the reasons I loved these books as a child (and still love them today) is that Baum wrote strong, unconventional female characters - and Ozma was certainly one of them. She probably has one of the most unusual origin stories for a fairy princess - having spent most of her life as a male (see The Marvelous Land of Oz). The sorceress Glinda was a strong, independent character as well. Although in various adaptations she's been portrayed as ditzy and even shallow, in the books she was infinitely wise and good and commanded her own powerful army - made entirely of women! She even eventually took the fraudulent Wizard of Oz under her wing and taught him some real magic. John R. Neill did these characters justice by illustrating them with a simple sophistication that made a huge impression on me.
Ozma was usually depicted with large, red poppies in her hair and wearing flowing white gowns. She almost always wore a simple circlet with the OZ logo in the front. More than anything, I was smitten by her long, wavy black hair. Although I didn't think of it at the time, I'm pretty sure my choice of wedding dress was somehow influenced by Ozma.
I made a Pinterest board for Ozma style here, if you're interested in more. I included a few wearable ideas, and I will continue to add to it this spring.
Do you have any current style icons that you discovered in your childhood?
|Illustrations from 1913's The Patchwork Girl of Oz.|
|Detail from 1913's The Patchwork Girl of Oz, depicting Ozma and the Hungry Tiger and the Cowardly Lion.|
|Illustration from Ozma of Oz. Ozma is in the middle and Dorothy is to her right with the bobbed hair and large bow.|
|Ozma attempts to rescue her friends in Ozma of Oz.|