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Ebony Fashion Fair: 50 and Fabulous!

�Black is beautiful. Always has been. Always will be.� � Ebony Fashion Fair Magazine

By Francyne Walker
Entertainment Editor
HB Meeks/Joe Spencer
Tell Us Detroit

Hey Ebony Fashion Fair, 50 looks good on you. The annual Ebony Fashion Fair show, hosted by the Detroit Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, was held at the Max M. Fisher Music Center on Sunday in Detroit. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the show�s theme was �Glam Odyssey � A Fashion Journey Into Bliss and Beyond.� Detroit Alumnae Chapter president Annita Orr was excited to host the event because "the show gives a retrospective review of what�s taken place over the years and gives us the opportunity to show we like to dress up.� Wardrobe stylist and personal shopper Orlandus Dunning, who comes every year, said the show is one of the most exciting arrangements of fine clothes that have ever been presented.

From American designers like Carolina Herrera and international designers like Issey Miyake to the beautiful mocha, caramel, and caf� au lait-colored models strutting across the stage, it�s more than just �the world�s largest traveling fashion show.� It�s a well-choreographed symphony as raven-haired fashion commentator and former Ebony Fashion Fair model Jada Collins lyrically describes the designer duds while the models (usually two at time) step in perfect unison to the point where the clothes sway as if they have a life of their own. The wide array of bold colors like copper, fuchsia, gold, red and turquoise is a feast for the eyes in a production where fashion meets fantasy. �This is like being in Paris,� said Laura Isom of Detroit. Cynthia Grant of Detroit, who never misses a show, added �It�s exciting, extravagant, exotic and fantastic and plus I love clothes.�

Amidst the glitz and glam, there�s the business of giving back. The vision of Ebony Fashion Fair was birthed in 1956 when Jessie Covington Dent, wife of Dr. Albert W. Dent, former President Emeritus of Dillard University in New Orleans, approached the late John H. Johnson, publisher, chairman and CEO of Johnson Publishing Co. to sponsor a mini-fashion show to raise funds for a New Orleans hospital.

This show was so successful with the help of Johnson�s wife, Eunice that they decided to take the show on the road to benefit worthy causes. In 1958, they selected ten cities to host the Ebony Fashion Fair show, featuring four female models, with tickets ranging from $3.50 to $12.00 and 50 percent of the ticket sales allocated for scholarships. That was then and 50 years and 13 models (11 female and 2 male) later, the �world�s largest traveling fashion show� has raised nearly $55 million for various scholarship groups. In Detroit, they have partnered with the event host, the Detroit Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority to donate proceeds to various charitable programs. �We are able to implement programs to serve the Detroit community through the success of events such as the Ebony Fashion Fair,� said Orr. �By supporting the Ebony Fashion Fair, the youth of Detroit � from preschool through college � benefit.�

The modeling troupe consists of 13 female and male models, including one plus-size model Phonicial Washington, who gracefully held her own in the company of her slimmer sisters. Then there were the two chiseled and strikingly handsome male models Ronnel A. Blackmon and Justin Brown, who were a welcome fixture to the otherwise female-oriented show.

For the last fifty years, living legend Eunice Johnson has been the producer and director of Ebony Fashion Fair, traveling to the fashion capitals of the world, including Paris, Milan, Rome, London, New York and Los Angeles, purchasing more than 200 garments by international designers like Emanuel Ungaro, Bill Blass, Christian Lacroix, and Hanae Mori to name a few. For just one night, you are able to envelope yourself in the world of fashion where you are reaffirmed that �black is beautiful, always has been, and always will be.� Here�s to another 50 years of Ebony Fashion Fair and you know what? It will still be fabulous.

For more information, photos and video, visit the EFF�s international touring company�s website: www.ebonyfashionfair.com