Museums are always on my list of things to do and right now one of my favorite art museums (and in my opinion one of the best on the east coast) is currently displaying the "Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair" exhibit. An amazing display of the magazine's fashion show history. If you are into fashion, design, or just black culture this is a MUST SEE exhibit.

It is breathtaking the moment you walk in, with large pictures of Eunice Johnson, the director of Ebony Fashion fair, and just a small glimpse of it’s rich history. A few of my favorite garments included the bridal gown by Emanuel Ungaro; the ball gown made of West African fabric by African American Henry Jackson; and the Valentino's 30s rendition of evening pajamas. Of course there were so many more I can’t even name, but I have included a few photos of more favs.


“Eunice and her husband started a publishing company and fought their way to get into the world of high fashion. At first the Fair faced discrimination against designers who feared negative reactions to exclusive designs on black bodies. They begged, persuaded, and threatened for the right to buy clothes.”

As I stared at all of the beautiful designs and displays, an older black lady came to sit on the bench in front of the plus size model, where I had stopped to stare. “I remember when the first plus size model walked out and the crowd went wild.” she said. I turned around like “TELL ME more!” She continued on to tell my friend Terrence and me more of her experience at Ebony Fashion Fair shows. Her aunt would take her to the show when she was a little girl in New York and she continued going, until 2004 when she noticed people in attendance had begun to dress down. She remembered it being a time where not only the models were dressed up, but the audience dressing to the nines was just as much a part of the culture of the charity fashion show. It was so cool to hear someone’s own account while learning about it.

Evening Gown by Todd Oldham
Evening Gown by Todd Oldham

Learning the history of the event, gawking at the different designer gowns, coats and suits; the Virtual Fitting Room; the ENTIRE exhibit was amazing! The NC Museum of Art consists of two buildings and an outside walking trail with sculptures, gardens, and children's playgrounds all along it. Admission into the museum is free but there is a small fee of only $15 to view this current exhibit. Well worth the price and I would advise everyone to visit next time they're in the North Carolina capital.

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