Celebrate 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair

Got a passion for designer clothing and inspiring moments in women’s history? Look no further: In celebration of Ebony Fashion Fair’s 50 wonderful years, the Chicago History Museum in cooperation with Johnson Publishing Company present “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair,” a new exhibit at the Minnesota History Center this summer.

Fashion Fair, originally the fashion feature of Ebony magazine, began as a traveling runway show in 1958, featuring African American models, challenging traditional white-oriented perceptions of beauty and style, and emphasizing the empowerment of black women across the nation. In its 50 years, the fair produced more than 4,000 shows and raised more than $50 million for charity.

The exhibit features 40 late 20th and early 21st century ensembles designed by the most famous names in fashion including Valentino, Alexander McQueen, and Yves Saint Laurent. In an attempt to recreate the uniquely wonderful experience of attending the Fair, the exhibit will display photos and videos of the most recent Fashion Fair shows, alongside footage from the first shows decades ago.  

The traveling exhibit is on display in Minnesota from May 23 to August 16, and will continue then travel to museums and galleries in Michigan, New York and Washington.

Looking to learn more about the history of Ebony’s Fair and black fashion in America? Recently published, Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, written by Joy Bivins, and Rosemary Adams, tells the story of the traveling fashion show and highlights the amazing journey of the woman behind the show, Eunice Johnson. The book is available for purchase online at shop.mnhs.org.

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