Milwaukee Art Museum celebrates 50 years of Ebony Fashion Fair

A new exhibit is set to open at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

It's called \"Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair.\" Started in 1958 by Eunice Johnson, Fashion Fair was a traveling show that featured garments from well-known designers in Europe.

There are 80 costumes are on display for the exhibit, from runway gowns and separates, to ready-to-wear pieces. But, the clothes represent more than just style and swagger. They re-defined beauty and opened doors for African-American models during the civil rights era.

Johnson wasn't afraid to push the envelope with her performances that included music and spirited commentary. Over the years, her passion and drive raised millions of dollars for black charities.

The Ebony Fashion Fair is the first-ever fashion exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum. It's divided into three sections, vision, innovation and power, and visitors can listen to an audio guide as they walk through.

Thirteen of the garments are from the Mount Mary University, a place that holds historical significance to Fashion Fair.

\"This was in Milwaukee too, for 46 out of the 50 years and actually hosted four of these years on Mount Mary's campus,\" said Camille Morgan, guest coordinating curator. \"So the fact that they have this fashion education program and these wonderful garments from Fashion Fair as well, it's like the perfect synergy. They're working with us on a lot of programming so it'll be good.\"

The \"Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair\" exhibit opens to the public Thursday, February 5. It is free to the public on opening day. The garments will be on display through May 3.

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