Ebony Fashion Fair

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Ebony Fashion Fair
Fashion Show
Founded1958; 60 years ago (1958)
Defunct2009; 9 years ago (2009)
HeadquartersJohnson Publishing Co.
Chicago, Illinois U.S.
Key people
Eunice W Johnson John H Johnson
ProductsCosmetics (1973)

Ebony Fashion Fair (also known as the Ebony Traveling Fashion Fair) was an annual fashion event created by Eunice Johnson, co-founder of the Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Company. The show ran across the United States and other countries from 1958 until 2009. In addition to the fashion fair, the company also created a cosmetic line named Fashion Fair Cosmetics, in 1973. As of 2017, Fashion Fair Cosmetics are still available for purchase.


In 1956, John H. Johnson,[1] founder of the Johnson Publishing Company, was approached by Jessie Dent[2](the wife of the then-current president of Dillard University), who asked Johnson to supply models for a charity fundraiser benefiting the Flint-Goodridge Hospital[3] located on Dillard University’s New Orleans campus. Reluctant to use the models featured in the magazines published by his company, Johnson instead offered to provide the clothing. Johnson and Dent then came to an agreement: Johnson Publishing Company would supply the garments for the fundraiser, and, each ticket to enter the show would include a subscription to either Ebony[4] or Jet Magazine—both published by Johnson’s company.

The Ebony Fashion Fair was launched in 1958 by the Johnson Publishing company and repeated annually for five decades under Eunice Walker Johnson;[5][6] the director and producer of the show. The Ebony Fashion Fair (also known as the Ebony Travelling Fashion Fair), traveled to 30 cities over its 51 year run providing exclusive fashion to “hundreds of thousands attendees across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean” (Bivins.11).[7] The show was held in 187 venues with audiences as large as 5,000 attendees. The Ebony Fashion Fair not only helped to boost the Johnson Publishing Company’s brand identity, it also raised $55 million in funds for African American Charities.[8] The show featured male and female models of mostly African-American descent modeling fashions from top European designers such as: Yves St Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Pierre Cardin, Paco Rabanne, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Valentino, and Emanuel Ungaro.[9]

The Fashion Fair held its last show in 2009, due to Eunice Walkers' death in January, 2010.Template:Citehanews

Fashion Fair Cosmetics[edit]

When Eunice Johnson noticed that the models at the Ebony Fashion Fair "were mixing foundations to create the right blend to match their hues", she initially approached existing cosmetics companies and asked them to develop make-up lines which would suit the specific needs of women of color. However, as she was met with resistance from the companies she approached, she and her husband, John H. Johnson, created the Caspsule Collection: a small make-up compact in a mail-order package. Due to high-demand, the product led to the creation of a full cosmetic line named Fashion Fair Cosmetics, after the fashion show in 1973. Fashion Fair cosmetics [10] is now[when?]the largest African-owned cosmetics company in the world.[citation needed]


From March 2013 thru May 2014, the Chicago History Museum held a tribute exhibition titled Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years Of Ebony Fashion Fair. The exhibition features several ensembles featured in the Fashion Fair during its half-century history.[11][12] The exhibition has been touring nationally since fall 2014, with past and future stops including the Museum of Design Atlanta and the Milwaukee Art Museum.[13]


  1. ^ "John H. Johnson". Biography. Retrieved 2017-03-08.
  2. ^ "Movers and Shakers: The Dent Family". Amistad Research Center | Independent Archive. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  3. ^ "The history of Flint-Goodridge Hospital of Dillard University". Journal of the National Medical Association. 61 (6): 533–536. November 1, 1969. ISSN 0027-9684. PMC 2611800. PMID 4902313.
  4. ^ "The Ebony Fashion Fair: Changing History On The Catwalk". NPR.org. February 15, 2014. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  5. ^ "Eunice Walker Johnson | American entrepreneur". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-03-08.
  6. ^ "Ebony Fashion Fair and Eunice Johnson". America Comes Alive. February 9, 2015. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  7. ^ Bivins, Joy L; Adams, Rosemary K; Chicago History Museum (2013-01-01). Inspiring beauty: 50 years of Ebony Fashion Fair. Chicago, Ill.: Chicago Historical Society. ISBN 9780913820377.
  8. ^ "The Ebony Fashion Fair: Changing History On The Catwalk". NPR.org. February 15, 2014. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  9. ^ "The Haute Couture of Eunice Johnson". Huffington Post.
  10. ^ "About Us". www.fashionfair.com. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  11. ^ "Chicago History Museum Ebony Fashion Fair 'Inspiring Beauty' Exhibit Opens Saturday". Huffington Post. March 15, 2013.
  12. ^ "Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair". Chicago History Museum.
  13. ^ "Inspiring Beauty venues". Chicago History Museum.

See also[edit]