50 years of Ebony
Fashion Fair

Jean Patou by Christian Lacroix, 1986-87



Inspiring Beauty

50 years of Ebony Fashion Fair

Chicago History Museum

16 March 2013 – 5 January 2014



Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair 

recreates the experience of the Ebony Fashion Fair

through the story of Mrs. Johnson and more than 60

garments from icons of the fashion industry such as 

Yves St. Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Pierre Cardin,

Emanuel Ungaro, Christian Lacroix, and Patrick Kelly

 among others.


The Ebony Fashion Fair began in 1958, and over the next 50

years the traveling fashion show blossomed into an American

institution that raised millions for charity and helped Johnson

Publishing Company reach audiences.


Show organizers overcame racial prejudice to bring the pinnacle

of Europe’s premier fashion to communities that were eager to see,

in real time and space, a new vision of black America that was the

hallmark of Ebony and Jet magazines. Eunice Johnson took over as

producer and director in 1963, and under her direction, the traveling

show took on new heights as she expanded her cachet and power

within fashion circles.





Henry Jackson, 2005



A vintage picture from an Ebony Fashion Fair



 Eunice Johnson with Alva Chin in Valentino, 1975




source: chicagohistory.org