By Siobhan O'Brien
Florence Broadhurst, the one-time chanteuse of Shanghai, Bond road salon proprietor, world-renowned wallpaper fashion designer and Sydney socialite lived a lifestyles steeped in subterfuge and deception. the following for the 1st time we get a glimpse on the attention-grabbing lady at the back of the hand-printed brocades.
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Additional resources for A Life by Design: The Art and Lives of Florence Broadhurst
In 1902, when Florence was three years old, the Broadhurst family left the cluster of huts at Mungy and shifted to a one-hundred-and-twelve-acre (five-hectare) property at Drummers Creek known as ‘The Oakes’. The sizeable home, a mere five kilometres to the east of Mount Perry, was luxurious by comparison with Mungy Station. QX5 3/9/04 10:10 AM Page 27 Bookhouse Growing up, 1899–1922 broad, sweeping verandas with stairs rising to a peak at the front of the building. The interiors boasted cedar finishes, high ceilings and spacious living areas.
Women go around imitating the la-de-da manners of the British, “cheerioing” one another and imitating what was obviously a lower-class British accent although they did not know it, and filling up their heads with imperialistic nonsense’ (Clifford, 1990). In the Shanghai of the twenties expatriates made up eighty-five per cent of the city’s population. In many senses Shanghai became their town, with the locals existing to serve them. The general view of the expats, who usually came with a team of servants, was summed up in Vogue in 1924: ‘Both Europeans and Americans love China, because it is so completely flattering to the AngloSaxon sense of racial superiority .
Gone was the tennis-playing teenager and in her place was a sophisticated, sexy vamp with a nom de guerre to match. ‘Bobby’ found her niche among the cultural elite—actors, writers, painters, musicians, dancers and singers—that made up part of the foreign expatriate population that had poured into the city since the late nineteenth century. And like many events in Florence’s life, Bobby’s timing was perfect. • Western-style dancing such as ballroom and jazz took Chinese society by storm after World War I and by the twenties dance and cabaret culture had become intrinsically linked with Shanghai itself, which by now had earned the nickname ‘Le Paris de L’Orient’.
A Life by Design: The Art and Lives of Florence Broadhurst by Siobhan O'Brien