Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair

On exhibit through January 21 at the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Ebony Fashion Fair offered African American women a vision of what they could wear and, ultimately, who they could be.

The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh is celebrating the fashions and models of the Ebony Fashion Fair through Jan. 21. The exhibition explores the 50-year history of the Ebony Fashion Fair (1958–2009), which redefined the concepts of beauty and style for the fashion industry and African Americans.

The traveling fashion show grew out of the pages of Ebony, first published in 1945, and the models were stunning. Originally, the fair was presented by Johnson Publishing Company and Eunice and Robert Johnson, owners of the Chicago-based publisher and the home of Ebony and Jet magazines.

The exhibit features 40 ensembles by Stephen Burrows, Pierre Cardin, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Patrick Kelly, Christian Lacroix, Yves Saint Laurent, Bob Mackie, Alexander McQueen, b. Michael, Missoni, Jean Patou, and Vivienne Westwood.

Far more than a display of fabulous clothes, the show offered African American women a vision of what they could wear and, ultimately, who they could be. The museum’s celebration of the decades-long show is called “Inspiring Beauty: 50 years of Ebony Fashion Fair.” Visitors will leave the exhibit with an understanding of how founder Eunice Johnson, by featuring black models and designers, changed the concepts and ideology of beauty internationally.

The North Carolina Museum of Art is located at 2110 Blue Ridge Rd. in Raleigh. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, military veterans, groups of 10 or more, and college students with current ID; and $9 for youth 7−18. Tickets are free for children six and under and for college students on Fridays from 5−9 p.m.

For more information on the exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art, please visit ncartmuseum.org.

 

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