'Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair' Opens May 23
"Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair" is a story of vision, innovation and power told through the history of Eunice Johnson, co-founder of Johnson Publishing Company, and the prism of iconic fashion from Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin, Yves Saint-Laurent, Patrick Kelly and Emanuel Ungaro among others. "Inspiring Beauty" is on view at the Minnesota History Center from May 23 through Aug. 16, 2015.
Organized by the Chicago History Museum in cooperation with Johnson Publishing Company, this exhibit features 40 ensembles significant to late 20th and early 21st century fashion including stunning gowns, feathered coats, and statement designs. In addition, archival photographs and video help to re-create the one-of-a-kind experience.
Originally the fashion feature in "Ebony" magazine, the Fashion Fair began in 1958 and ultimately helped to redefine the concepts of beauty, style and empowerment for African Americans. According to exhibit curator Joy Bivins, "fashion was always the draw but the opportunity that the show provided black women to see fantastic fashion on women who looked like them was equally important. On the Ebony Fashion Fair runway, black women were the beauty standard." "Inspiring Beauty" offers an unprecedented chance for visitors who never attended the show and Ebony Fashion Fair regulars to experience the beauty, glamour, and excitement first-hand.
A companion catalogue published by Chicago Historical Sy Museum accompanies the exhibit and explores the Fashion Fair’s story through more than 60 full-color images and essays by Dr. Maxine Leeds Craig, and exhibition curators Joy Bivins and Virginia Heaven.
Inspiring Beauty Fashion Show and Preview Party
May 21, 8 to 11 p.m., $25/$20 MNHS members
Enjoy exclusive early access to the exhibit and take in an original fashion show inspired by the legacy of the Ebony Fashion Fair. Produced by Richard Moody, emceed by Robyne Robinson, and featuring designs by Brandon Atherley, Sharon Cox-Cole, Hilda Mauya, Eli Nyamal, Raquel Redmond and Samantha Rei, the gala re-imagines icons of African American beauty incorporating original fabric by Shalom Fashions. Guests can take-in photo opps, shopping and a sneak peek at the 40 original ensembles pulled from five decades of the Ebony Fashion Fair collection.
"Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair" was developed by the Chicago History Museum in cooperation with Johnson Publishing Company, LLC, presented by the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum, and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.
"Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair" opening night is sponsored by Target.
The Minnesota History Center showing of "Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair" is funded in part by the Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.
Hours and location
The Minnesota History Center is located at 345 Kellogg Blvd. W. in St. Paul. Exhibit gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays (admission is free on Tuesdays from 5 to 8 p.m.), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Auxiliary aids and services are available with advance notice. For more information, call 651-259-3000 or 1-800-657-3773.
Admission to "Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair" is included with regular History Center admission of $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and college students, $6 for children ages 6 to 17; free for children age 5 and under and MNHS members.
The Minnesota History Center holds the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society. The History Center is home to an innovative museum, engaging public programs, a modern library, distinctive gift shops and an award-winning restaurant.
The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, the Society preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.
The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.