Own a piece of history from the Ebony Fashion Fair

If you’ve been reading this blog any length of time, you know my love for all things Ebony. Recently someone asked me if “black history” was my beat as a journalist and I politely explained that it was not. I see history as history: all entries and moments are important.  Ebony and the Ebony Fashion Fair are definitely a part of that.  It saddens me that the fashion show no longer struts and sashays through towns and cities. However, thanks to an auction to be held this Wednesday, we have the opportunity to bid on “the best of the best” from the archives.

Here’s more on the Ebony Fashion Fair:

Haute couture by Oscar de la Renta, Yves St. Laurent, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Lanvin, Carolina Herrera  and more are among over 500 lots up for auction. The collection includes gowns, cocktail dresses, coats, capes, separates and shoes.  And yes: the pieces have all the detail and drama you may recall if you ever attended one of the charity shows. The sale of these beautiful pieces will go on to benefit education just as they did in the past: a portion of proceeds will go to Johnson Prep. The live auction is to be conduction by Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, and will begin at noon CST on June 10.

To view the catalog, click HERE. Note, you must register ahead of time in order to bid.

Did you know? Mrs. Eunice Johnson, the show’s founder and driving force, was a Selma, Ala. native. She was educated at Talladega College.

All images via the Treasures from the Ebony Fashion Fair Collection. See them all by clicking HERE.


#TBT: Ebony Fashion Fair

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.



Happy 40th, Fashion Fair!

FashionFair40Fashion Fair -the prestige beauty line inspired by the EBONY Fashion Fair shows curated by the late Eunice Johnson – turns 40 this year! 

From EBONY Fashion Fair:

“…Johnson noticed models, in the Ebony Fashion Fair show were mixing foundations to create the right blend to match their hues. Initially she approached existing cosmetics companies and urged them to create a line to meet the specific needs of Black women. Unfortunately, this request was met with great resistance.

Mrs. Johnson and her late husband John H. Johnson, publisher of Ebony and Jet magazine, went to a private lab that developed formulas out of the mixtures the models created. After successfully applying this makeup on the models in the fashion show, the Johnsons produced Capsule Collection, a mail-order package in 1969. Based on the overwhelming response, it was clear there was a demand for a Black cosmetics line.

Fashion Fair Cosmetics was born in 1973, named after the fashion show that inspired it. With its feminine pink packaging and a wide range of shades, Fashion Fair Cosmetics was strategically marketed to high-end department stores. The line continued to expand by introducing skin care, fragrance and hair care products that addressed black women’s needs.”

I remember this cosmetics line fondly; I grew up on it! Many little girls of a certain age remember the glamour, mystery and great freebies) at the Fashion Fair counter, and it’s exciting to see it flourish under the direction of legendary makeup guru Sam Fine. To celebrate four decades of glamour, EBONY Fashion Fair is offering a special capsule collection for $48 each.  The four limited edition sets  – “Foxy, Fresh, Sensuous, and Divine” – include “nail lacquer, lipstick, lip teaser and beauty blush in one of spring’s hottest pink hues…for women who celebrate life with a touch of luxury.”

Enter to win a set from the capsule collection by clicking HERE.

And catch the behind-the-scenes fabulosity here:

Fab freebie from Ebony!

I heart Ebony. I really do.  Not only because I (sort of) got my start in print there, grew up flipping through the copies on my parents’ coffee table, and stopped at the Fashion Fair counter for my first compact, but I’m really loving Ebony after its recent redesign. What’s even more fabulous?

Not only is the legendary magazine offering scholarships during next weekend’s Magic City Classic, it’s also offering a free, year-long subscription in honor of the Classic!  Get yours now by clicking HERE.

And Amy DuBois Barnett: if you’re reading this: hire me!

 Image via Ebony.com

Fashion Flashback: Fashion Fair Cosmetics

Ahhh, Fashion Fair!  Just the name brings back memories of ladylike pink compacts and lipstick cases, of berry lipsticks and frosty eyeshadows.  Visiting Miss Ann at the makeup counter in Pensacola’s Gayfers department store was always a treat, because she would make sure we left loaded with free samples!  I couldn’t wait to grow up just so Miss Ann could make me over.  For women who came of age before MAC, Lancome, and other department store cosmetic brands catered to women of color, Fashion Fair celebrated our glamour in all its hues (just as its creators’ – Mr. and Mrs. John H. Johnson – showcased the best of African-American lifestyles in Ebony magazine each month).   The prestige brand has recently enjoyed a resurgence, and veteran celeb makeup artist Sam Fine  has been named creative director.   Take a look back at some of Fashion Fair’s chic vintage ads below (featuring Diahann Carroll, Nancy Wilson,  Natalie Cole and Aretha Franklin)!

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Images courtesy of Vintage Black Glamour

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