The Fashion Legacy Association for Industry Recognition (FLAIR, Inc.) hosted their #OOTD, charity fashion show reflecting its theme of “The Jazz Age of Fashion,” a VIP reception and dinner on Saturday, July 27, 2019 at the California African American Museum (CAAM). The event showcased the work of emerging and prominent African American designers on the catwalk as well as providing mentoring and scholarships to up-and-coming fashion and design students.
The runway featured former Ebony Fashion Fair models, hitting the catwalk, styling and profiling designs from African American designers, presenting the aesthetics of Black culture. Designers included Mario B Productions, Tina Summers, Wachtenheim Furs, Zenele Knitwear, Deanzign and Grayscale.
This year’s honorees include iconic fashion designer Stephen Burrows, who wowed audiences in 1973 at the historic Battle of Versailles Fashion Show in Paris; celebrity makeup artist Derrick Rutledge, the man behind the “beat” face of former First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey; celebrity fashion designer Angela Dean of the DeanZign atelier, a red-carpet favorite of entertainers and Hollywood’s A-list crowd; Theodis A. Rodgers Jr., a jazz pianist and multi-keyboardist who served as the music director for the Ebony Fashion Fair for 15 years; and Pamela Fernandez, a vocalist, and voice actor, who walked the catwalk as a model and worked the mic as a commentator for the fashion show through the years.
Special tributes including the FLAIR Designer Award honoring Rufus Barkley posthumously for his achievements as an illustrator and designer. Also, Carole Brantley Pines and Elaine Calloway received the FLAIR Legacy Awards as two of the four, first-ever Ebony Fashion Fair Models on the first tour, “Around the Clock,” in 1958.
Ebony Fashion Fair was created in 1958 by Eunice Walker Johnson, co-owner of Johnson Publishing Company and the publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines. Considered “the world’s largest traveling fashion show,” it ran from 1958 to 2009. Ebony Fashion Fair broke color barriers by using primarily African American models and connecting women of color to the world of mainstream high fashion. For 51 years, the fashion show served as a vehicle for raising millions of dollars for various African American charities, sororities and institutions. The fashion show had a significant cultural and economic impact in the African American community and supported thousands of educational scholarships for young people to attend college.
“It’s extremely important to keep the legacy of Ebony Fashion Fair alive because it broke down barriers between African Americans and runway fashion,” said Clerk Moseley. “We would not have fashion influencers like Beyoncé and Rihanna today — who, back in the day, would not have been allowed to enter the fashion houses that now fight over the chance to dress them — were it not for the trail, blazed by Eunice Johnson and Ebony Fashion Fair. The contributions of Black designers and models contribute alternative perspectives to fashion that make it more creative, more inclusive and more varied as both an art form and an industry.”
During its run, Ebony Fashion Fair showcased prominent Black fashion designers, including Stephen Burrows, Scott Barrie, Jon Weston, b. Michael, Patrick Kelly, Willi Smith, Tracey Reese, Rufus Barkley, Jeffrey Banks, Edward Wilkerson, Kevan Hall, L’Amour Ameer, Patrick Robinson, Linda Stokes, Eric Gaskins, Angela Dean, Lenora Levon and Angela B’nai, just to name a few. These designers were presented on the runway alongside other haute couture designers, such as Oscar de la Renta, Anna Sui, Monique Lhuillier, Zang Toi, Missoni, Roberto Cavalli, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, Karl Lagerfeld, Vivienne Westwood and Bill Blass.
With a growing concern over the shortage of opportunities for education in the creative arts arena, FLAIR alumni created its signature, charitable fashion show, FLAIR 2019, as well as its mentoring and scholarship programs, FLAIR Cares and the Fashion & Design Boot Camp, to support diverse, economically-disadvantaged minority students, pursuing careers in the fashion and design industry. Several FLAIR Care mentees were awarded with scholarships for their education in the field of fashion.
To learn more about FLAIR, Inc. visit www.flairinc.org/