Fashion Nostalgia: Changing Fashion, Beauty & History on the Catwalk

Tracee Dundas Fashion Editor @fashionablyyoursnola
Fashion Editor – Tracee Dundas | @fashionablyyoursnola

Photo Credit – Ebony Magazine

Before Rhianna Fenty Beauty, Mac Cosmetic or CoverGirl Queen there was Fashion Fair Cosmetics. Eunice W. Johnson established the brand to address the lack of makeup options for women of color. Johnson, with her husband, John H. Johnson founded Ebony Magazine, a monthly designed to emulate Life Magazine and its style of boldly photographed front covers. Mrs. Johnson had the vison to name the publication Ebony for the dark brown timber found in tropical trees. She also recognized the nonexistence of makeup colors for melanin skin tones and the opportunity to fill a void.

Johnson began the Ebony Fashion Tour (later known as Ebony Fashion Fair), a Traveling Fashion Show that started as a fundraiser in 1958 for a hospital in New Orleans. The fashion tour was a pioneer in using African American models on the catwalk and highlight the works of African American and world-renowned designers. Building on her difficulties in finding cosmetics suited to the skin tones of the diverse models that toured with the show, Johnson created Fashion Fair Cosmetics as a line of makeup that would be sold in leading department stores. It quickly became a symbol of empowerment for women of color. However, despite pioneering the makeup industry, the brand struggled due to new and intense competition tapping into the opportunity to market to women of color, forcing the Fashion Fair Brand to file for bankruptcy in 2018.

Now, Fashion Fair is back under new leadership and has relaunched.

New Orleans native Desiree Rogers, the new CEO and co-owner, Fashion Fair has been revived with a focus on modernization and cultural resurgence. The brand return comes at a time when the market for Black beauty products is flourishing. The relaunch also represents economic empowerment as Black-owned businesses encounter systemic barriers. Fashion Fair’s revival demonstrates the resilience and viability of Black entrepreneurship.

Eunice Johnson aimed to redefine beauty standards, celebrating the beauty of Black women and Rogers is determined to carry the torch. It serves as a reminder of the transformative power in embracing diversity and challenging societal perceptions of Black Beauty.

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