A Brief History of Ebony Fashion Fair

Ebony Fashion Fair began as a small idea of Jessie Dent of New Orleans in 1956.Dent had the desire to put on a mini fashion show for a local ladies auxiliary. She took her idea to John H. Johnson, the CEO and chairman of Johnson Publish Company.

With help from Johnson’s wife Eunice, producer and director of the show, and the late Freda Knight, then Ebony’s home service director, the rich history of Ebony Fashion Fair began to unfold.By 1958, the one show had evolved into 10. The show quickly began to spread and soon became a major powerhouse in the fashion industry and in international and national charitable fundraising.

Over the years, Fashion Fair has helped its models enter careers in the fields of journalism, business and spurred some to higher statuses in the fashion world.

The show has been presented in over 179 sponsored cities and now attracts 350, 000 viewers annually. Since inception in 1958, Ebony Fashion Fair, with the help of its sponsors, has raised about $49 million.

The show has gained the sponsorship of such organizations as The United Negro College Fund, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Jack and Jill of America and The National Council of Negro Women.

Fashion Fair has performed over 4,000 shows in the United States, London, England, Jamaica and the Caribbean.

The show, with the theme Simply Spectacular, is celebrating its 45th anniversary and promises to continue to be prosperous for another 45 years.