It was the spirit of the earliest cowgirls that was the inspiration for Frannie Bear. Those women who, way before the rest, threw convention (and their corsets) right out the window and embraced all the freedom and bad-assedness the west had to offer! I’ve been working on Francesca's transformation (she's originally a Boyds bear) for quite some time, but she just didn't seem to be quite finished telling her story to me. Then yesterday, thanks to an online article in Cowgirl Magazine, I stumbled upon the real life story—and pictures— of Vera McGinnis!
Vera had a style all her own and a sense of adventure that is the stuff of movies! She didn’t grow up a child of the west, but once she discovered it, she pretty much defined it. Vera was born in 1892, traveled the world riding in competitions and exhibitions until 1934 and lived to be ninety-eight year old. She published the story of her life, My Life in Rodeo in 1974. This book is out of print, but you can get a great sense of Vera’s story thanks to an online article in Cowgirl Magazine—Vera McGinnis: The Most Daring Cowgirl Who Ever Rode The West. Written by Jana Bommersbach, it's great and if this article is just a few of the highlights of Vera's life, I'd love to get my hands on a copy of her book. Just click here for Jana's article.
When I spotted this photo of Vera and two other notable cowgirls of the day, Edythe Sterling and Dorothy Morrell, I had to smile because of the way they wore their “wild rags” with Vera sporting a silver concho as a slide, just as I’d already decked out Frannie!
But it was when I came across this glamour shot where Vera boldly mixes her stunning western fringe, western hat with pearls that Frannie Boyd’s look came together! I added a piece of vintage fashion that I just hadn’t had the right project for, an amazing collar completely covered with pearl and bugle beads. For those of you readers that are interested in the details on this collar, there will be up close photos when Frannie is listed for sale on Etsy! If you're someone that knows a lot more than I do about vintage fashion can help me estimate the age of the collar leave me a comment!