Source: Huffingtonpost.com and NBCChicago.com
Photography: Amie Hana Photography
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.
The exhibition highlights some of the nearly 7,000 pieces of designer goods that Eunice, the late wife of John H. Johnson, the founder of the Johnson Publishing Company, amassed over 50 years for her personal collection and the EBONY Fashion Fair.
Her sharp eye and success in bringing high fashion to the black community via Ebony's Fashion Fair aka "The World's Largest Traveling Fashion Show" made her an industry pioneer and style icon. "Anybody would be bowled over by what Mrs. Johnson was able to collect in her lifetime," Joy Bivins, the Chicago History Museum curator of the coming exhibition, told the WSJ.
Having handpicked every single piece from the impressive collection full of Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Stephen Burrows, Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta designs--just to name a few--Eunice is said to have spent $1.5 million a year at times for her designer goods. Now that's what you call a shopping spree!
"On the runways, what you saw was her vision of what was fashionable and what was stylish," curator Joy Bivins said. "In the late 1950s, when these black people showed up in Europe to purchase these garments, it wasn't always an easy thing to get their foot in the door. They didn't have the history, they didn't know who we were, what Ebony was."
More than 68 garments will be on display, including works by designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Pierre Cardin and Yves Saint Laurent.
Mrs. Johnson not only featured the top couture designers, she also made it a point to showcase black American designers as well.