Fashion, History, and Shopping: Ebony Fashion Fair Show Auction

Notable pieces from the Ebony Fashion Fair collection: 1.Nina Ricci Couture Red Corded Lace Evening Ensemble 2.Yves Saint Laurent Evening Ensemble 3.Oscar De La Renta Sequined Evening Gown.
Notable pieces from the Ebony Fashion Fair collection (l to r): Nina Ricci Couture; Yves Saint Laurent; and Oscar De La Renta.

By Mary L. Datcher
Special to the NNPA via The Chicago Defender



Fashion fanatics will be granted access to the treasures from the Ebony Fashion Fair Show vault on June 10th at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. This final installation of the three-part auction series gives fashionistas and history buffs an opportunity to own a piece of history.

“My mother created the Ebony Fashion Fair Show tour because she wanted every women to experience fashion. This auction takes that access to the next level,” says Johnson Chairman Linda Johnson Rice, the daughter of Eunice and John Johnson, the founder of the company that publishes Ebony and Jet and owns Fashion Fair Cosmetics. “The best of the best from the Ebony Fashion Fair Show collection is featured in this auction. When a woman wears one of these beautifully constructed garments to a gala, it becomes a part of living history. We’ve had these pieces stored away for decades, why not let others have an opportunity to have a piece of history—to own it, wear it and enjoy it?”

When Eunice W. Johnson turned the “Fashion Fair” feature in Ebony magazine into a charity event, the Ebony Fashion Fair Show was born. Both the publication and event created an inclusive consumer culture for African Americans to explore design, art and fashion. Five decades later, the Ebony Fashion Fair tour is known as the largest traveling fashion runway show in the world and has raised over 55 million dollars for charity.

Treasures from Ebony Fashion Fair Show will be the third sale Leslie Hindman Auctioneers has conducted for the Ebony collection, the most recent having taken place in 2013. The sale will include over 500 lots of garments that didn’t make the first or second cut, but only because they are the “best of the best,” essential pieces from the Ebony collection making their debut at auction.

“We are excited to present these works of art to the world and more importantly to our community,” says Johnson CEO, Desiree Rogers. “From choosing an auction house that’s close to home to setting the starting prices, we wanted to be sure that this auction would be accessible to a wide cross section of people.”

Bidders will now have a chance to compete for a piece of fashion history from both an iconic cultural brand and the world’s fashion capitals of Paris, London, Milan, Rome and New York.

Some of the most prized garments in the collection are a Yves Saint Laurent black sequined gown from the Fall/Winter 1990 collection and a Yves Saint Laurent yellow faille Domino coat ensemble from the Fall/Winter 1983 collection. Each of these looks were included in the first complete retrospective of the Yves Saint Laurent oeuvre at the Petit Palais in Paris in 2010.

Johnson Publishing Company currently holds approximately 300 pieces that will remain in its archives. This is in addition to the 67 pieces included in the Inspiring Beauty Tour currently scheduled through August 2016. The full schedule is available at http://chicagohistory.org/inspiringbeauty/.



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