Eunice Johnson and The Ebony Fashion Fair

4:38 PM

Last month, I went to the Chicago History Museum to visit the Ebony Fashion Fair exhibit. Before going to the exhibit, I knew very little about the Ebony Fashion Fair and its founder and director Eunice Johnson. After viewing the exhibit, I learned that the Ebony Fashion Fair was a traveling fashion show that began in 1958 that lasted for 50 years. Also, I learned that Eunice Johnson was the wife of John H. Johnson. John J. Johnson was a publisher and executive of the Johnson Publishing Company. John and Eunice helped establish Ebony magazine.The Ebony Fashion Fair tour was created soon after the launch of Ebony magazine and began as a fundraiser for a hospital in New Orleans. In its half century of existence, the tour visited 200 cities across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, raised over $50 million for charity.

 Eunice Johnson and her staff made it a priority to bring high fashion to African-American communities all around the country. The show's organizers overcame racial prejudice in attempts to bring the European fashion experience to the consumers in urban America. Eunice Johnson was able to work with designers like Yves St. Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, Christian Lacroix, and Patrick Kelly. Also,Eunice Johnson was able to create so many jobs for up-and-coming African-American designers,models, and stylists. Before these shows it very rare to see a woman of color modeling down the runway in a designer gown. 

Honestly, I believe that Eunice Johnson is truly an under-rated pioneer in the fashion industry. She is my inspiration and I hope that many more people come to appreciate and recognize her hard work. Without her, I don't think we would have any supermodels/moguls like Tyra Banks,Beverly Johnson or Naomi Campbell. I only wish that she was still alive so I could thank her for all of her work in person. I can only hope to have the same influence as her in the future.

At the Pauline Trigère show (1971)
Eunice and Karl Lagerfeld (1975)
Jackie Robinson, Eunice Johnson, Jim Brown, Sammy Davis Jr., and John H. Johnson (from left) at Ebony’s 20th-anniversary luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, 1965

Eunice and her husband John (third to her left), at the White House, celebrating the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, 1963.

The Ebony Fashion Fair Exhibit at the Chicago History Museum ends January 5,2014 so visit it if you can :)

*Photos found on Google

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