Fashion fair brings runway to Tallahassee

“Stylishly Hot” was the theme as the models of the 49th Annual Ebony Fashion Fair lit the runway of The Moon nightclub with fire.

The show was hosted by the Leon County Chapter of the Charmettes Inc., a community-conscious civic organization founded in 1951 in West Palm Beach.

The show consisted of two acts, each with four scenes. Each scene highlighted trends that fit well into the show’s theme that, according the show’s commentator, Jada Collins, was “bold and spicy.”

Over the sound system, Collins, a former fashion fair runway model and current print model, commented on each of the outfits as they came down the catwalk.

Thirteen models, 11 women – some full figured models – and two men, graced The Moon’s runway as they wore the latest styles in the different scenes.

During the “Hot Chocolate” scene, male models showed off chocolate brown velvet blazers while the ladies wore brown evening wear with splashes of color.

Clothing from famous American designer Anna Sui was shown on the runway as well. Sui baby doll dresses embellished in gold, beads and sequins came down the runway during the “Paisley Pepper” scene.

While in the “Bling Bling Blaze” scene, an Oscar de la Renta couture trumpet-bottom evening gown drenched in silver sequins had the crowd in awe.

According to, the concept for the fashion fair came when Jessie Covington Dent, wife of Albert Dent, former president of Dillard University in New Orleans, approached John Johnson, publisher, chairman and CEO of the Johnson Publishing Co.

Jessie asked Johnson to sponsor a small fashion show to raise money for the Flint-Goodrich Hospital in New Orleans.

The show eventually went on tour to support other worthy causes.

In 1958, the tradition was started, and 10 cities were chosen to host the first fashion fair.

As of today, the shows have raised more than $54 million for different scholarships.

This year, the money raised will go toward the First Generation Matching Grant, a program that provides financial assistance to undergraduate needy students who are the first in their families to attend college at one of Florida’s state universities.

“This year, we will be donating $3,000 to Florida A&M University, which will actually end up being $6,000 after the government matches it,” said Taylore Maxey, the fashion fair’s publicity chair.

“Stylishly Hot” came from Ebony’s desire to bring their audience “the glittery, flashy and radiant reds and oranges that are present in spring fashion this season,” Maxey said.

Clothing from designers such as Carolina Herrera, Vivienne Westwood, Bill Bass and Jean Louis Scherrer graced the runway.

“We wanted to highlight the latest breakthrough designers as well as African-American designers,” Maxey said.

Some of the black designers included Henry Jackson for the Gallery of Wearable Art, B. Michael and Fusha.

The difference between this year’s show and the one before is this year the audience saw “Broadway on the runway,” Maxey said. “The show will definitely be more entertaining and crowd-interactive.”

Julia Vinet, a 21-year-old, junior political science and English student from Pompano Beach, decided to attend this year’s Ebony Fashion Fair because she attended last year’s.

“I wanted to see what the show had in store this year,” Vinet said. “The atmosphere is always warm and welcoming when the show comes to town.”

The Ebony Fashion Fair will go on until May 2007 and is scheduled to visit popular cities such as Baton Rouge, La., Dallas, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.