Monday, September 28, 2009

Ebony Fashion Fair Shuts Down Its Runway For 2009

After 51 years of dazzling runways across the globe, the Ebony Fashion Fair show has called it quits --- for now. Citing economic hardship and the lack of sponsors, Johnson Publishing CEO, Linda Johnson Rice has decided to cancel the fall 2009 shows.
From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Annual Ebony Fashion Fair show is a victim of economy

By Naomi Nix
Inquirer Staff Writer

Mina Dia-Stevens recalls looking around the auditorium of an Ebony Fashion Fair show as a young adult and knowing that there were other African American fashionistas out there, from a cluster of giddy sorority college girls to a group of churchgoing women.

"They are exposing African Americans to world-renowned designers that they may not have known otherwise," said Dia-Stevens, who is an adjunct professor at Moore College of Art and Design and an associate professor at the Art Institute of Philadelphia.

And it's coming to an end, at least for now.

After more than 50 years of showcasing the highest caliber of fashion in the industry to mostly African American audiences, organizers of the traveling international fashion show have canceled its fall 2009 installment.

The Philadelphia Cultural Committee Inc., the nonprofit organization that has hosted the program annually in Philadelphia or New Jersey for 50 years, is among 180 organizations that will not put on a show this fall.

"The overall economic climate has presented challenges for many, including our potential corporate sponsors," said Linda Johnson Rice, the chairman and chief executive officer of Johnson Publishing Co., in a statement.

The firm, which publishes Ebony and Jet magazines, hopes to bring back a retooled show starting in fall 2010.

"In the coming months, we will develop a new business model to ensure that the show is a mutually beneficial endeavor," said Rice.

As a nonprofit endeavor, the Ebony Fashion Fair show has raised more than $55 million to benefit largely African American groups nationwide, according to Jeanine Collins, a spokeswoman for Johnson Publishing.

The Philadelphia Cultural Committee uses part of its $15,000 to $20,000 in proceeds to give scholarships to college-bound high school students who are interested in the arts.

Each year it gives $1,000 to five or six students who are pursuing higher education in New Jersey, Philadelphia, or Delaware. The remaining money goes to local charities.

"If we do not have the Ebony Fashion Fair show, it's going to be a deterrent to giving scholarships," said Gwendolyn A. Faison, president of the Philadelphia Cultural Committee.

Faison said the committee is meeting to discuss alternative fund-raising.

Over 4,000 shows have been performed to date in the United States, the Caribbean, and London, according to a representative from the publishing company.

The featured clothing includes cutting-edge couture fresh off the runways of Fashion Week as well as ready-to-wear "extravagant" pieces, said Cheryl Washington, a fashion designer and an adjunct professor at Moore College of Art and Design.

"It is a multitude of talent from all over the world," she said.

The show has exhibited the work of several notable African American designers, including Stephen Burrows, James Daugherty, L'Amour, B. Michael, and Quinton de' Alexander.

It was started in 1956 to support the Women's Auxiliary of Flint-Goodrich Hospital in New Orleans by John Johnson, then publisher and CEO of Johnson Publishing.

But Dia-Stevens says the show is more than just a few models strutting the latest fashions on the runway.

"When you see the show, it's like a performance - it's ambience, it's atmosphere," she said. "It is more theatrical than it is anything."

Thinking of her 14-year-old daughter, Dia-Stevens hopes to keep her family's appreciation for fashion alive.

"It is a special event that I would definitely want to experience with my daughter," she said.
These are trying times for the Johnson Publishing Company. The economy has taken a toll on its crown jewel, Ebony magazine, which may result in the sale of the magazine, and now they are forced to shut down what is considered a rate of passage fpr African American women.

Is this the end of a legendary era? Will a part of African American culture be lost?

Will high profile Black models, such as Tyra Banks or Ebony Fashion Fair show alumnus, Pat Cleveland, step in to rescue the Ebony Fashion Fair show?

Stay tuned...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

Irene Cara
(Photo: Philip Michael Thomas/

With the remake of 80's classic, Fame opening in theaters today, I couldn't help but think of singer/songwriter, Irene Cara, who played Coco Hernandez in the original movie. So, as I was getting my Google on in search of pics of Ms. Cara, I ran across this photo of her taken by Philip Michael Thomas, her co-star in Sparkle and of Miami Vice fame.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

ARISE African Fashion Collective - Spring 2010

Earlier this month, the ARISE African Fashion Collective made its second New York Fashion Week appearance to present its Spring 2010 collection. The collective gives exposure to African designers that otherwise would get lost in the fray. This season, the collective introduced four designers: Lisa Folawiyo, Tiffany Amber, David Tlale and Eric Raisina. Here are some pieces that caught my eye.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

It was 26 years ago yesterday that Vanessa Willams made history by becoming the first African American to be crowned Miss America. To commemorate that achievement, I thought it would be fitting to post Ms. Williams' official Miss America 1983 photo.

As a bonus, here's video footage of the historical moment:


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Beyoncé (Finally!) Gets Her Own Fragrance (UPDATE! A&F Files Lawsuit Against Beyoncé!)

Beyoncé with Bernd Beetz, CEO of Coty, Inc.

Coming fresh off her win for Best Music Video at the 2009 MTV Music Awards, Beyoncé Knowles has announced her entrance into the celebrity fragrance genre. Ms. Knowles has partnered with Coty Inc. to produce her own perfume which will debut in Spring 2010 in the Americas, and globally in Fall 2010.

Ms. Knowles had this to say about the new venture:
“For me, fragrance reflects a woman’s attitude and unique sense of style...While I love various perfumes, I haven’t found a scent that truly personifies me as a woman. Working with Coty, I was able to turn my ideal fragrance into a reality by creating an alluring and sophisticated fragrance; one that’s reflective of my inner power.”
While monetary details of the deal haven't been disclosed, one source says Ms. Knowles will make $5 million a year, or $20 million for three years. Another source says that because of the slow down in the fragrance market, and that her previous gigs as the face of Tommy Hilfiger's fragrance, True Star, and Emporio Armani's Diamonds, weren't that successful, the deal is no more than $10 million for three years.

I must say, "What took you so long, Beyoncé?". In fact, I don't understand why Beyoncé settled for being the face of a perfume in the first place. She should've skipped those deals with Hilfiger and Armani, and developed her own fragrance. There were plenty of companies that wanted to work with "the hottest chick in the game". Now, with the celeb fragrance genre waning, it looks like Ms. Knowles may have missed a golden opportunity.


UPDATE! (9/17/09) A day after Beyoncé announced the launch of her new fragrance, reports that Abercrombie & Fitch have filed a lawsuit against Ms. Knowles claiming trademark infringment:
"The teen retailer alleged in a federal complaint filed Tuesday that a scent with that label would infringe on its own Fierce cologne trademark.

But Coty said Wednesday Knowles’ dual personality would not factor into plans for her perfume, which will be sold in department stores globally and launch in the Americas in the spring.

“We can confirm at this time…that the terms Fierce and Sasha Fierce are not being used as names of a Beyoncé fragrance,” a Coty spokeswoman said." (SOURCE:
A&F claims that a "Sasha Fierce" fragrance would cause a "likelihood of confusion" for consumers.

OK, everybody! If you have heard of A&F's "Fierce" cologne before today, please clap.


I'm just sayin'.

Monday, September 14, 2009

She's Baaaaaaack!

(Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

Janet Jackson ripped the stage in a moving tribute to her brother, Michael Jackson, at last night's MTV Video Music Awards. Miss Janet dancing with her big brother one last time moved me to tears. You could see the passion and fire in her face. It was as if she was saying to all of the critics, "My brother is the King and you WILL respect my brother. PERIOD." It was a powerful performance.

And I loved her twist on MJ's one white glove! Cute!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

Eartha Kitt

I'm not into full on animal print outfits -- a lil' splash of leopard on a scarf will do -- but this outfit is pure FIYAH!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Janet Jackson on the Cover of Harper's Bazaar Oct. Issue!

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(Click to Enlarge Photos)
(Photo Credit: Tom Munro/Harper's

Now this is a pleasant surprise! First, it was announced that Janet will be performing a dance tribute to her brother, Michael Jackson, at the 2009 MTV Awards, and now Miss Jackson is on the cover of Harper's Bazaar magazine! WHOO HOO! It's like Christmukkawaanza in September for us Janet fans! I wasn't expecting to see Miss Janet in the public eye this soon, considering the sudden passing of her brother. Nevertheless, it's good to see Miss Jackson back.

In her first interview since MJ's death, Janet talks about how she's coping with the tragic loss, her memories of Michael, her new status as a single lady (Yes, she and Jermaine Dupri broke up) and her upcoming book.

One of Janet's revelations about Michael that I found interesting was about the ensemble he wore for the infamous Motown 25th Anniversary special:

"Do you remember that black jacket he wore for Motown's 25th anniversary? That's our mother's! He grabbed that from her closet! He loved anything that sparkled."

Can you believe it?!

You can read the full article here.