Mrs. Martin Johnson Becomes Osa Johnson
“Famed Naturalist Stuns With New Fashion Designs”
“Everybody knows that Osa Johnson is the world’s outstanding woman explorer…that she can operate a camera like a professional. But how many know that Mrs. Johnson was recently named one of the twelve best-dressed women in America?
The Fashion Academy acclaimed her for ‘using scientific knowledge of jungle attire in practical everyday fashion.'”
Quote from a NY TIMES Fashion Awards Feature Story, 1939
Mrs. Martin Johnson Goes Glamorous
Injured in the plane crash that killed her husband Martin, Osa Johnson was saddled with a large debt and was physically unable to return to full safari mode. In her recovery, she devoted her time to and made a new career of writing books, going on the Lecture travelogue Circuit and working for Hollywood movie magic powerhouses like Columbia Pictures and Fox Studios. She was hired as the African consultant for the Spencer Tracy film Stanley & Livingstone and producers paid her to select film segments from the Johnson film library to use in commercial films like Tarzan. In the 1950s, she edited this extensive collection of film footage that she and Martin had made during their 26 years of exploring into her own TV series, Osa Johnson’s BIG GAME HUNT that became the first wildlife documentary to appear on US television.
OSA JOHNSON FASHION ICON
Osa had became famous for her sense of style not on the runways of Paris, NY or Milan…but in Africa, the South Seas, & North Borneo. She often showcased and incorporated indigenous styles in her own designs, sharing the histories of the peoples she had encountered on hermany travels. In 1939, Osa was named one of the 12 Best-Dressed Women in America.
Osa soon designed her own fashion line of sport clothes cut from a specially crafted fabric called “OSAFARI” as well as her own jewelry accessory collection named Osa Johnson’s Jungle Jewelry. The Fashion Academy acknowledged her for “using scientific knowledge of jungle attire in practical everyday fashion.”
A New York magazine said of this venture: “Everybody knows that Osa Johnson is the world’s outstanding woman explorer, that she has never missed a shot while stalking game, that she can operate a camera like a professional. But how many know that Mrs. Johnson was recently named one of the twelve best-dressed women in America? …Designers were surprised when they learned that Mrs. Johnson, first lady of exploration, had turned from her varied and exciting life of exploring the jungle lands to the field of design, but from all observances made so far, she is just as deft at the latter as she was on a hunting expedition.”
Below are some examples of Osa’s Fashions, her Jewelry line and press materials collected by her many, many fans!