Fashion Fair Cosmetics

Fashion Fair is a line of makeup that specifically caters to the needs of African American women. In the Seventies, most makeup companies didn’t offer foundation shades for deeper complexions. Fashion Fair rectified that. An article from the Monday, June 29, 1970 edition of Time Magazine reflected on the new cosmetic lines created to address the problems women of color faced when purchasing cosmetics. An ad from 1976 shows Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, then “just a soul singer from Detroit,” extolling the virtues of Fashion Fair makeup. Both Fashion Fair and Aretha Franklin would become icons within their respective industries.

Fashion Fair cosmetics was started in 1973 by Eunice Walker Johnson. Eunice was the wife of publisher John H. Johnson. Together Eunice and her husband founded Ebony magazine in 1945 to cater to the interests of African Americans. A sister publication, Jet, was started in 1951. In 1956, Eunice started the Ebony Fashion Fair, a fashion show featuring haute couture fashions from around the world. It started as a fundraiser for a hospital and quickly became an annual traveling show to benefit many charities. The show used only African American models, and also featured upcoming African American desigers such as James Daugherty and Stephany Burrows. The Ebony Fashion Fair ran from 1956 until 2008. There were plans for a 2009 show, but the show was abruptly cancelled, a casualty of the poor economy. Eunice Walker Johnson died in 2010 at the age of 93.

Catalogue for the 2009 Fashion Fair that never happened

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