I was never lucky enough to actually attend the legendary EBONY Fashion Fair — Eunice Johnson’s historied fashion event traveled the world from 1958 to 2009, the year I moved to Chicago. When Mrs. Johnson passed in January 0f 2010, there was that burning question  – what would happen to all of these gowns? All of these amazing garments from the Houses of Christian Dior, Christian Lacroix, Emanuel Ungaro, Halston, Issey Miyake, Nina Ricci, Paco Rabanne, Patrick Kelly, Pierre Cardin, Stephen Burrows, Thierry Mugler, Valentino and Vivienne Westwood — it’s tragic to think of these beautiful, vibrant, historic pieces just gathering dust, unseen, in a vast closet or warehouse somewhere.



I missed the first Ebony Fashion Fair auction because I was out of town. Somehow I didn’t find out about the second one in 2013. So you had better believe I’ll be there, ready to scoop up my own piece of history on June 10th at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers at the final installation of the three-part auction series. Click here to read more via Ebony.com.


“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?”

Yes. Exactly. I plan to buy, own, wear, and enjoy a piece of history.

I’ve been seeing some social media chatter lamenting this as some kind of last ditch fire sale – but this has been in place as a three-part auction series for a while now. All is not lost, people. Here are some facts about this upcoming fashion event just as an FYI – and an explanation as to why yours truly plans to stop by and make a purchase if possible.


– There’s a range of sizes and a range of items. The Ebony Fashion Fair show was never about clothes for one particular tiny sample size, it was moreso about fashion in silhouettes and colors that popped for fashionistas all shades of beautiful. I’ve met plus size ladies in Chicago clad in amazing coats who told me they got them at the 2013 Ebony Fashion Fair auction. So your girl has been biding her time. This final auction “…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.” I’m keeping my eyes peeled for plus size possibilities. And I’m definitely looking for accessories.


– This is for the kids. No, seriously. A portion of the auction proceeds will go to Johnson College Prep, a public, 4-year charter high school located in Englewood on Chicago’s south side, named for business pioneers John and Eunice Johnson.

– This is history. This is five decades of black fashion, curated by Eunice Johnson, intended for impact and statement. I just want to touch them hem of some of these garments.

–  This is the last auction, but it isn’t the end of the archive. There are more dresses! 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 auction begins Wednesday, June 10 at 12 PM CT. Hopefully there’s at least a purse in my future!

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pets says:
May 21, 2015, 9:38 am
Go and try! but even if you don't get one of the items you are part of something historical. Best of luck!
Sharon Moore says:
May 24, 2015, 11:04 pm
I got the opportunity to go to the Ebony Fashion Fair in the 90's and it was such a glorious experience. I wish something like that was still around for our young black girls to see. It was high fashion mixed with black culture at its finest. Now, as a work-at-home-mom trying to build my own legacy, I admire the Johnson family and all that they accomplished. I especially am happy to see their daughter carry on their empire and wish her continued success as i work on accomplishing the same. Thanks for writing this. That was a great trip down memory lane and I wish you luck at the auction!
Dorothy Johnson says:
February 18, 2016, 8:59 am
I have always enjoyed the Ebony Fashion Show.