Ebony Fashion Fair

Georgia O'Keeffe, NCMA, Female Artists
Permission granted NC Museum of Art

More than 35 of Georgia O’Keeffe’s works make up “The Beyond: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Art” exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art opening Saturday. O'Keeffe lived for nearly 100 years, and was one of the most iconic artists of the 20th century.

Givenchy by Alexander McQueen, evening gown
Courtesy of NC Art Museum

In 1958, African-American women donned designer dresses and walked the runway for the first Ebony Fashion Fair. 

The charity fashion show was the brainchild of Ebony Magazine co-publisher Eunice Johnson and it showed African-American women as rich and successful. The fair ran for 50 years, and in that time it continued to be a space where African-American women could re-imagine their role in American society and reclaim their beauty.

Model Anita Taylor walks down a runway wearing a desgign by Desiree Hedrick during a fashion show for the kickoff of the exhibit, Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion, at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, N.C.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

In the 1950s and 60s, images of African-American beauty and fashion models in mainstream media were almost non-existent in the United States.