Thursday, 20 July 2017
Eunice Johnson & the Legendary Ebony Fashion Fair Fashion Show
“In somewhat of a cosmic manner straight out of a supernatural couture galaxy, we felt like we visited the moon to view extraordinary fashions from another lifetime.” Editor-in-chief, Allison Elizabeth Brown, recently took her modeling/mentoring camp Mahogany Style Studios to view and experience the traveling curation “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair” at the prestigious George Washington University’s Textile Museum. The capsule collection featured mesmerizing memorabilia as well as key pieces from famed publishing giants John and Eunice Johnson’s legendary fashion event.
The Chicago-based power couple, who amassed their fortune in the early ’60s/’70s by creating both Ebony and Jet magazines, expanded their indelible cultural imprint with the launch of the annual fashion show fundraiser back in the 1950s. Eunice Johnson, who spearheaded the endeavor, pioneered numerous innovations in the global world of fashion for African Americans. Some of her significant accomplishments include exposing renowned couture designers like Givenchy, Chloé, YSL, Alia, and Valentino to African American audiences across the country, convincing designers that African American models could and should wear bright colors that were traditionally considered taboo for people of color. She’s also believed to be the first person in the US to introduce full-figured modeling and she even created the first nationally recognized brand of African American makeup in response to the need for adequate beauty products for people of color.
Over the course of five vibrant decades, Eunice Johnson raised over $55M in charitable donations, discovered some of the most iconic African American models to date, among them Pat Cleveland, who began her career at the tender age of 16. Cleveland, along with a few of her Ebony Fashion Fair contemporaries, were among the famed Battle of Versailles models who took Paris by storm in the early ’70s.
An activist, industry innovator, and philanthropist, Eunice Johnson almost single-handily revolutionized the position of African Americans as consumers in the minds of European designers, while simultaneously cultivating an infectious craving for couture culture among affluent and aspirational African Americans everywhere.
To learn more about the Fashion Fair Fashion Show legacy, click here. Also be sure to purchase the book “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair,” as well as “The Battle of Versailles.”