The George Washington University and The Textile Museum: Inspiring Beauty – Fifty Years of Ebony Fashion Fair

On June 5, 2017, over 20 AAFSW members and friends visited the Textile Museum and the George Washington University Museum located in Foggy Bottom. The museum deputy director welcomed everyone with a short introduction covering the Textile Museum’s history, mission, and current and future exhibitions. The group was then led by a docent on a special tour of the current exhibit “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair.” The exhibition features exquisite dresses, gowns, and suits designed by Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Chloe, and many other renowned American and International designers during the Ebony Fashion Fair’s half-century history. To a few of us in the group, this was our first-time hearing of the Ebony Fashion Fair.

Through the exhibition, not only did we marvel at the beautiful fashion, but we also learned the history of the Ebony Fashion Fair and the important role it played in shaping contemporary African American culture. The show is open through July 24, 2017. As it was mentioned by the deputy director of the museum and our docent, this exhibition tells the story of the fair’s creator, Eunice Johnson, who overcame racial prejudice to bring global fashion to an African American audience.

At the end of our tour, the deputy director invited the group to visit the Textile Museum’s Avenair Foundation Conservation and Collections Resource Center in the near future. The center, located in Ashburn VA, houses the museum’s permanent collection of more than 19,000 objects that date from 3,000 BCE to present.

Anna Bysfield