clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Homage to the Ebony Fashion Fair Coming to History Museum

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

The former wardrobe of the late Eunice Johnson is still considered legendary to this day. She collected clothing as pieces of art, like Imelda Marcos collected shoes. The annual tag sales that Johnson Publishing hosts garners such attention, that wares are sold out within a matter of hours. And there's still so much left in the archives. That's why the Chicago History Museum's Costume Council is bringing an exhibition of some 70 pieces to display in March. The 7,000 square foot exhibition will be the largest exhibition the museum has ever curated.

The Ebony Fashion Fair was one of the world's greatest fashion spectacles, and was truly a sight to behold. Unlike the mostly staid fashion shows of our times, save for Alexander McQueen's Kate Moss hologram and a few others, the traveling show featured flourishing movements-- a sort of preening, if you will--narration, and various sections which ensured that the two-hour long show was a cohesive whole. The exhibition will be set up in that way as well. The three sections will be "vision, innovation and power," and each piece in the section will speak to its respective title. You can expect to see Givenchy and Christian LaCroix in the Vision section, Pucci in the Innovation section, and Valentino, Bob Mackie and Guy LaRoche in the Power one. If those names don't suggest vision, innovation and power, we don't know what does.

The exhibition will open with a preview on the night of the Costume Ball on March 15, and will feature one-night only displays of never-before-seen pieces. If you have a personal connection to the Ebony Fashion Fair, or if you just want to indulge in what will surely be one of the most fashionably magnificent nights in Chicago, one where history is in the making, you can purchase tix to the Ball by calling 312.799.2110. But if you don't have the means to attend and would still like to get a glimpse at one of the world's most phenomenal collections of clothing, the exhibition opens the next day, March 16, and admission is just $14. The exhibition, called Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, runs through January 2014.
· Chicago History Museum [Official Site]

Chicago History Museum

1601 North Clark Street, , IL 60614 (312) 642-4600 Visit Website