Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair

By Raquel Parks
@MetroDivaPages

As Thanksgiving weekend nears, it is the perfect time to plan some interesting activities to enjoy that go beyond staying home and going to the department stores. A visit to the museum is a great way to get out with friends and family while avoiding some of the frenzy of Black Friday shopping.

One of the most noteworthy exhibits in Detroit is the “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair” at the Charles H. Wright Museum. The exhibit celebrates and showcases the 50-year history of the annual fashion show that ended in 2009.

This marks the first exhibition ever created on the event which was organized by the Chicago History Museum in cooperation with Johnson Publishing Company. The Ebony Fashion Fair was a tour founded by the co-founder of Johnson Publishing Company, Eunice W. Johnson in 1958. Johnson was known for her style and eye for fashion throughout her career.

Johnson used her experience as a fashion editor for the magazine, Ebony and her love for fashion in her role as director and producer of the event. The tour traveled across the United States and outside of the country to present some of the most high-end fashions.

Most of the models were African-Americans and the garments that walked the runway were from upcoming African American designers and well-known European designers. Fashion Fair would eventually lead to the creation of the cosmetic line, Fashion Fair Cosmetics that still exists today.

Although the tour put a spotlight on high-fashion, it also raised funds for several charities with various causes that ranged from scholarships to community concerns, throughout its run. Eunice W. Johnson passed in January of 2010 and a Fashion Fair event has not taken place since.

To recognize and provide a thorough history of the Ebony Fashion Fair, the exhibit will showcase nearly 100 objects that include ensembles and accessories that will be displayed on fully stylized mannequins. Archival photographs, video and personal items of Eunice W. Johnson will also help illustrate the full story of the Ebony Fashion Fair.

A total of 40 garments that consist of lavish gowns, feathered coats, and other statement pieces were chosen from Johnson’s collection, accumulated throughout five decades,for the exhibit. The public can expect to see pieces from many designers that include Stephen Burrows, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Christian Lacroix, Yves Saint Laurent, Bob Mackie, Missoni, and Jean Patou.

Admission is free to the exhibit. “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair” will be at the Charles H. Wright Museum until January 3, 2016. For more information on the exhibit, visit
thewright.org.

Raquel is a Michigan native with a Bachelors in Journalism from the University of Michigan. She loves fashion and writing about life’s everyday stories. She has written for various local publications that include Dearborn Press & Guide and Detroit Fashion Pages. Raquel also writes for her own local events blog, Metro Diva Pages.

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