The Milwaukee Art Museum is presenting “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair,” running from Feb. 5, through May 3. The installation focuses its attention and celebrates the finer qualities of the African-American man and woman; their fashion sense, artistic creativity, mastery of fabric, and artistic visions exclusive to the African-American culture.
“Inspiring Beauty” is a story of far-reaching vision and innovation, of black creative and entrepreneurial affluence, and power told through the history of one Eunice Johnson, of Chicago’s Johnson Publishing Company. In addition, the bold fashion styles are joined by iconic fashions from designers like Yves Saint-Laurent, Christian Dior, Oscar de la Renta, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, and Patrick Kelly among others; all of which Johnson secured to create the garments .
“Ebony Magazine,” first published in 1945, went on to become an iconic magazine that speaks too, and represent positive images of people of color in America; with elegant, affluent, and intelligent metaphors. The publication uses imageries and reflections that highlight the achievements and accomplishments of the African-American hue-man, an experience that is rich with history and culture of their contributions and existence in America.
Ebony Fashions Culture and apparel design, especially during the Fashion Fair extravaganzas an event that took place annually across the country, emphasized the accomplishments of people of color, and took the African-American community by storm, also catapulting the genre into Ebony Fashions haute couture.
This feature exhibition, “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair,” displays 80 red carpet ensembles from 60 of the world’s most famous designers, in celebration of one unique history. The Johnson Publishing Company, and its flagship publication, Ebony Magazine, helped 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 “Ebony Fashion Fair” pageants showcased African-American haute couture and inspired many artists and designers wherever it went. The fair served as sort of a symbolism, denoting a rite of passage for black women of distinct and individual style, class, and grace all of their own.
Over its history, the “Ebony Fashion Fair” changed the lives of those on both sides of the catwalk, and it changed America. African-American men and women flocked to the fashions with a fierce embrace. The “Fashion Fair” shows over time, also raised $55 million for African-American charities, like the United Negro College Fund or sickle-cell anemia research.
Overall, the event was full of brilliant color, often times eclectic, and over-the top design fashions from the beginning of the “Ebony Fashion Fair” collections in 1965 to as current as their “Fashion Fair” event in 2009. I recommend visiting the installation before it ends on May 3 here in Milwaukee. The program highlights the business of fashion, clothing design, textile artists, business elites, and “Fashion Fair Events.”
The Fashion Fair also includes a showing of:
Sunday, March 1, 2015, 2 PM
Don’t miss this romantic drama starring Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams, being screened in conjunction with the “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair” exhibition. “Mahogany” (1975) follows Ross, an up-and-coming fashion designer who is torn between love, and activist and politician Williams. She realizes her dreams when opportunity comes along with a fashion photographer played by Anthony Perkins.