One of my many favorite things to do is to visit museums. I love history. What I love more is Black history. So when I heard that the Ebony Fashion Fair exhibit was coming to the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA), I didn’t hesitate to volunteer.
I’m embarrassed to say I had NO idea how the Ebony Fashion Fair came into existence. It was directed by Eunice Johnson and backed by her husband, John Johnson, founder of the Johnson Publishing Company.
The Johnson Publishing Company, and its flagship publication, Ebony Magazine, helped to fashion the black middle-class in America for five decades. For 50 years, from 1958 until 2009, the Ebony Fashion Fair traversed the country.
The coast-to-coast show was a pageant of haute couture that created aspirations wherever it went. It was a rite of passage for black women, who flocked to it. The show also raised $55 million for African-American charities, like the United Negro College Fund or sickle-cell anemia research.
Over its history, the Ebony Fashion Fair changed the lives of those on both sides of the catwalk, and it changed America. NPR
Opening night was simply amazing. MODA featured 60 timeless garments from fashion industry icons such as Yves St. Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Oscar de la Renta, Pierre Cardin, Valentine, Givenchy, and many more.
I got to volunteer with some pretty cool people. And we even got our vogue on. Lol.
I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have a conversation with the visionary that was Eunice Johnson. She hand-picked every gown, acquiring over 8,000 couture pieces.
“She just wanted to prove there was nothing you couldn’t do; there was no barrier to black beauty. She would put the brightest yellow [or] brightest orange on the most dark-skinned model she had.” Linda Johnson Rice, daughter and Johnson Publishing CEO
Many of the patrons had personal ties to the Ebony Fashion Fair. I listened to stories from actual models, frequent attenders and funders. To know that this all started with two Black people with vision makes me proud. To see something so magnificent be recreated for our viewing pleasure blows my mind. Do yourself a favor and visit MODA for an experience you’ll never forget. To view more images from the event, click here.