Friday, November 16, 2007

MAJOR BITE: EBONY FASHION FAIR TURNS 50!

EBONY FASHION FAIR CELEBRATES A MILESTONE.


Jada Collins, Ebony Fashion Fair commentator


Left-Jean Louis Scherrer silk chiffon column gown with tri-color bodice with brass loops and fabric streamers.
Middle-Gilles Montezin balloon sleeve, silk taffeta opera coat.
Right-Emanuel Ungaro crocodile and Mongolian lamb jacket, pinstripe pants.

ABOUT EBONY FASHION FAIR
Beautiful black models wearing stunning designs from all over the world.
Ebony Fashion Fair brings you just that. The Ebony Fashion Fair symbolizes more than just a show with some nice outfits.
It always has.

Shirley Jackson, 61, a principal leadership coach, will preside over the 50th Anniversary of the Ebony Fashion Fair in Detroit as general chair with the Detroit Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., which is hosting the show at the Max M. Fisher Music Center on Sunday. In its 50 years, the Fashion Fair has raised more than $55 million for African-American organizations nationwide.

More than that, Fashion Fair has had a cultural impact that still resonates.

"When this event started, there was still a huge amount of segregation," says Alicia Nails, 50, of Southfield, the public relations chair of the Detroit chapter. "This was an event where we could arrive with dignity and sit where we wanted.

"In the 1950s, if you didn't go to Paris, where else would you see this stuff?"

What people will see at this year's Fashion Fair, "Glam Odyssey: A Fashion Journey into Bliss and Beyond," are 11 women and 2 men strutting the stage in some of the finest clothing around.

The Fair was bolstered over the decades by its producer and director, Eunice W. Johnson, who made hundreds of trips to Europe to purchase clothing from fashion houses for the nationally touring event.

Fashion Fair has produced American icons, like Richard Roundtree, a model who went on to star in "Shaft," and Pat Cleveland, who became a supermodel. This year's show will continue showing off designs from the world's biggest names, including Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana and Carolina Herrera.The legacy of Fashion Fair is not lost on Ontwanet Moran, 26, of Los Angeles, a model who will wear 16 of the 200 outfits in the show.

"It's just an honor to be a part of black history," she says. "It's a show that, for the black race, says 'You can't hold us down.'

"To know this was around before I was even born and all the things it's accomplished and all the scholarship money that it's raised, there are no other words that can describe being in it except by saying it's a blessing."

Moran, who is in her second year with the Fashion Fair, says the audience can expect more creativity and dancing from the models.

Jeena Quansah, a model from Washington, D.C., says, "It's more than walking down the runway looking like an android. You gotta move!"

The show celebrates diversity within the black community.

"We represent different shapes and sizes and hair types, from the lighter skin to darker skin woman," says Quansah, 26. "It's amazing for us to just come together and represent all types instead of focusing on maybe the lighter skin tones. It's all beautiful."

To Jada Collins, show commentator, learning about Fashion Fair and cutting-edge clothing through the pages of Ebony and JET magazines gave her a feeling she could find nowhere else.

"I would see the pretty African-American men and women, and I just thought, 'How extraordinary!' " she says. "I could not pick up a Vogue and identify with the women in Vogue. I could not pick up Elle and necessarily identify with the women in Elle. But I could pick up Ebony magazine feel a sense of belonging."

WHAT IS "GLAM ODYSSEY" ALL ABOUT?

Fashion-savvy shoppers can discover stunning original designs as The Links Inc., Tri-City Chapter presents the Ebony Fashion Fair's ''Glam Odyssey: A Fashion Journey Into Bliss & Beyond.'' The fashion show, set for 8 p.m. Friday at Saginaw's Temple Theatre, will offer a sneak peek at some of the hottest designs of the fashion season.

In its 50th year, Fashion Fair will send the audience on a glamorous journey through five decades of designer fashions. Creations from the showrooms of famous designers including Christian Dior, Oscar de la Renta, Dolce & Gabbana, Carolina Herrera, Bill Blass and Jean Louis Scherrer will grace the stage.

As part of the anniversary celebration, Fashion Fair is showcasing popular fashion trends from past years. They're reaching back to the '70s to show color-block designs and revisiting the sparkle and shine of the '80s with updated looks in new metallic shades on jackets, coats and party dresses.

A traveling troupe of 13 models, including two men, offers a fast-paced performance. The show is filled with music ranging from rhythm and blues to hip-hop, along with lots of lights and stylish action from beginning to end.

If you're looking to see over-the-top couture designs, you'll find it in a voluminous balloon-sleeve opera coat from French designer Gilles Montezin.

No fashion show is complete without that all-American staple - denim. Fashion Fair brings it to the stage courtesy of Italian designer Oppio.

This year's hot color pick is gray. Italian designers Roberta Scarpa and Stizzoli designed a supple charcoal gray leather jacket perfect for casual daytime dressing.

Sources: Times News & Freep.com