Welcome to Inspiring Beauty

January 31st, 2013by Joy BivinsFiled under: Exhibitions

For five decades, Chicago’s Johnson Publishing Company, known for the iconic magazines Ebony and Jet, brought the world’s best fashion to audiences across the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean in a spectacle of glamour and performance known as Ebony Fashion Fair. On Saturday, March 16, 2013, the Museum will celebrate this history with the opening of Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair.

Models display the season’s hottest swimwear, 1967
All images courtesy of Johnson Publishing Company, LLC

Ebony Fashion Fair was no ordinary fashion show. First appearing in 1958, the show combined fashion and performance to wow audiences everywhere it traveled, whether a lavish ballroom or a local gymnasium. Early audiences were treated to the rare opportunity to see high fashion in their hometowns—and the rarer opportunity to see high fashion on black models. The traveling show was also a charity event that used beautiful fashion to raise funds for worthy causes.

The Fashion Fair audience, Chicago, 1975

Program from the show’s second season, Ebony Fashion Fair Around the World, 1959

Inspiring Beauty features more than sixty garments from designers such as Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Patrick Kelly, and many more. The exhibition will introduce you to the fashion and fantasy of the Ebony Fashion Fair experience as well as the key players in the show’s history, including Mrs. Eunice Johnson. As the longtime producer and director of the traveling show, Mrs. Johnson used fashion to provide audiences with inspirational and transformative images.

Eunice Johnson (seated), Ebony Fashion Fair producer and director, inspects a model in an ensemble by Valentino, 1978

Ebony Fashion Fair model, 1959

Perhaps you’ve never heard of Ebony Fashion Fair or maybe you attended regularly. In either case, this exhibition has something in it for you. And, we can’t wait to share it with you.

> Learn more about Fashion Fair producer and director Eunice Johnson

> Read about Johnson Publishing Company

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One Response to “Welcome to Inspiring Beauty”

  1. Barbara Jackson Says:

    Fashion Rebellion 1967.
    That’s me in the middle, all of 17 yrs old and I’m still friends with all these girls after 40 + years.
    When my mother saw me in this bathing suit she was NOT happy. In the Jet magazine.

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