Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Power of Color Get Ready for This Year's Flashy, Festive and Fun-Filled Ebony Fashion Fair

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Power of Color Get Ready for This Year's Flashy, Festive and Fun-Filled Ebony Fashion Fair

Article excerpt

Clear the runway. "The Power of Color" the 1995-96 Ebony

Fashion Fair, lands at the Prime Osborn Convention Center for a

one-night stand Friday.

This will be the 38th year for the two-hour presentations of

men's and women's haute couture and designer fashions that

Eunice Johnson, producer and director of the show and wife of

the founder, CEO and chairman of the board of Ebony Magazine,

literally buys off the runways of Paris, Milan, New York and

London.

Many of the creations are one-of-akind showstoppers, too

expensive to reproduce commercially but extravagant indicators

of trends to come. They are modeled by a corps of 14, who are

accompanied by commentator Pamela Fernandez and music director

Theodis Rodgers, Jr.

What began in 1956 as a request for a mini-fashion show for a

ladies auxiliary in New Orleans, evolved into a vehicle for

change. The Ebony extravaganza provided a showcase for black

models that raised awareness within the fashion industry of

previously untapped talents, paving the way for the Tookie

Smiths and Naomi Campbells to come.

Used as a benefit by civic and fraternal groups across the

country, the entertaining show is credited with raising $42

million for charity. It didn't hurt its sponsor's circulation

figures either, for a subscription comes with each ticket sold.

Jacksonville has been one of its stops since 1958, when the show

first began branching out into cities. The Gamma Rho chapter of

Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority was its first -- and continues to be

its only -- sponsor.

In the beginning, the show was presented at the new Stanton High

School.

"Some sorority members wondered if $4 was too much to pay for a

ticket and a subscription to Ebony magazine," recalls AKA member

Ruth Solomon. "Times were hard, but the tickets were sold, the

show was a success and everyone enjoyed receiving the magazine."

It has returned annually ever since, accounting for more than

$15,000 in scholarships for local young African-Americans.

"For a long time, it was the biggest social event of the year

for Jacksonville's black community," says AKA spokeswoman Lois

Prime. …

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