Can we think of racialized skin as dress, as a form of fashion-consciousness? Instead of seeing this question as trivializing the history of denigrating corporeality attached to the raced subject, through a reading of Josephine Baker this paper argues for the importance of separating “skin” from a biological schema in order to consider its ability to reflect and activate different states of racialized consciousness and corporeality. Through a study of Baker’s intricate and performative relations to various fashionable surfaces—from modern buildings to modern dress to her own shimmering skin—this paper traces Baker’s spectacular invention of “skin-fashion” and its importance for how we think about style and racial visibility today.

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