Ebony Fashion Fair: 50 Years of Couture

ebony fair

The Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum hosted the Costume Council’s 2013 Costume Ball on Friday, March 15. Over 400 guests were treated to a preview of the Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair exhibition.

The event was hosted by Costume Council President Nena Ivon and Honorary Chair Linda Johnson Rice. Master of Ceremonies Bill Zwecker and Chicago History Museum President Gary T. Johnson welcomed attendees at the dinner.

During the cocktail reception models stood amongst the crowd, adorned in select outfits from the Ebony Fashion Fair collection, including designers Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Lacroix, Oscar de la Renta and Pierre Cardin, among others.

The Ebony exhibition features 68 garments, 5 of which are menswear constructed of leather, sequins, feathers, fur, ruffles and frills to boot. One of the most extravagant collections ever on display right here in Chicago. The most outrageous outfit was designed by Patrick Kelly – the ‘I Love Fashion Scandal’ evening dress. The most luxurious and glamorous gown is a Valentino Garavani evening dress and stole from the Fall/Winter 1974-75 collection.

The exhibition introduces visitors to Eunice Walker Johnson, Ebony Fashion Fair’s longtime producer and director. “My mother often spoke about the importance of African-American women feeling beautiful,” shares Linda Johnson Rice, chairman, Johnson Publishing Company. “The Ebony Fashion Fair legacy represents an important part of the rich, African-American cultural experience in America, and I am extremely excited that the Chicago History Museum is bringing my mother’s vision to life.”

A decadent dinner was served in the outdoor tent lavishly designed by Tom Kehoe Designs. Fit for royalty, the space presented purple décor intertwined with fuchsia orchids. The after-party offered desserts and dancing until midnight. Quite a success, the event raised over $400,000 for the museum’s costume collection.

Bob Carl and Photo Affair Studios Photographs

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About Cindy Burns

Cindy Burns is an author, researcher and freelance writer. She has spent over 20 years serving on charitable boards and organizations, and currently serves as a member of the Women's Board of the Joffrey Ballet and The Women's Auxillary Board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicago. She’s also an Honorary Member of the Children's Service Board of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital and writes as TCW's "Woman About Town," covering Chicago's social scene, events, fashion, interviews with women who are making a difference, and more around Chicago