Raise your hand if you ever attended and Ebony Fashion Fair extravaganza. I miss this experience…and after having spent a semester researching Ebony, I miss it all the more. It was a social occasion that called for one’s finest ensemble-including one’s fur coat-and it presented an opportunity to see haute couture up close, something rare in Mobile and Pensacola.
Ebony Fashion Fair was the brainchild of Selma-native Eunice Walker Johnson, who was educated at Talladega College. It began in 1958 as a fundraiser for a New Orleans hospital and grew to travel to over 200 cities, raising millions for charities in the process. To see some of the glamour for yourself, the Chicago History Museum has a traveling exhibit entitled “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair.” It’s currently in Atlanta through January 4, 2015. It features pieces from Valentino, Ungaro, Pierre Cardin, Dior, Emilio Pucci and Givenchy.
You may have heard the news that Kathy Griffin will replace Joan Rivers on E!’s Fashion Police. Brad Goreski will replace George Kotsiopoulos. While I enjoy Griffin’s sense of humor, I think this was a missed opportunity to diversify the cast. The Ebony Fashion Fair made diversity visible on and off the runway, and I believe Mrs. Johnson was ahead of her time.