The North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) is currently hosting their first fashion exhibit with “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair.”
Organized by the Chicago History Museum, the exhibition celebrates 50 years of the Ebony Fashion Fair, a traveling fashion show that took place from 1958-2009 and featured high fashion pieces from designers such as Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and more.
Created by Eunice Johnson, the Ebony Fashion Fair ended its 51-year run in 2009 due to Johnson’s death. The fair even inspired a line of cosmetics, Fashion Fair Cosmetics, created by Johnson and her husband in 1973.
Created at a time when racial tensions were high, the Ebony Fashion Fair was about more than just fashion and beauty — it was about empowering African-American women, featuring mainly African-American models.
“At the time that it was first presented… racial discrimination affected every aspect of life for African-Americans in the United States and that black fashion designers and fashion models were basically non-existent,” Linda Dougherty, Chief Curator at the NCMA, said. “With this fashion show, Eunice Johnson presented high fashion to the African-American community.”