Last Updated on April 18, 2008 by Paulette Brown-Hinds



By Victoria Taylor

Fashion Fair model strikes a pose.

With the hard work and effort it took Linda Wright the president and the board of directors of the Moreno Valley Black Chamber of Commerce, the fabulous Fashion Show is known for traveling all over the world was caught Thursday evening April 10, 2008 at the Moreno Valley Conference Center tearing up the runway with the most stunning garment made by the world renowned designers: Steve Harvey, Carolina Herrera, Marc Bouwer. Antonio Wingfield, b. Michael, American, and Gianni Calignano, and Oppio, French.  The residence of Moreno Valley came in their finest attire to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the world’s largest traveling fashion show. The event was designed with Moreno Valley in mind.  The show didn’t start until 8:30 p.m. however the VIP guest started arriving as early as 6 p.m. for the VIP reception.

A saxophonist was present, playing beautiful smooth jazz tunes and high notes as the background music. The atmosphere was calm and exciting, but nothing could prepare the guests for a phenomenal show that was awaiting. Ebony’s commentator Jada Collins wowed us with her introduction and knowledge of the designers and their amazing garments. If you’ve never been to Ebony Fashion Fair you were about to get schooled. From the past to the presents, outfits that dated back to the 50’s, 60’s and the 80’s were worn with style and so much class. Those signature styles have not been forgotten but have been recreated to fit any shape, from or fashion. The music, and the excitement from the models was electrifying. The 13 models kept the audience entertained, with their wonderful skits and dance routines.  Ooh’s, Ahh’s, and applauses was the reaction the models were getting from the audience. The beautiful bright colors, patterns, prints, styles, stitching, and sparkles, dazzled up the runway. One couldn’t mention Ebony Fashion Fair without mentioning the marvelous fashion pioneer, Mrs. Eunice W. Johnson, producer-director of Ebony Fashion Fair. Dating back to the year of 1956 when Fashion Fair first started, “Mrs. Jessie Covington Dent, wife of Dr. Albert W. Dent, former president emeritus of Dillard University in New Orleans, approached Mr. John H. Johnson, publisher, chairman and CEO of Johnson Publishing Co., to sponsor a mini-fashion show fund-raiser for the Women’s Auxiliary of Flint-Goodrich Hospital in New Orleans. The first show was such a success that “Mr. Johnson, in consultation with Mrs. Johnson and Freda C. DeKnight, home service director, then decided to take it on a cross-country tour to benefit other worthy charities.”  We are so glad they did. “Ten cities were selected in 1958 by Mr. and Mrs. Johnson to host the first Ebony Fashion Fair. With the theme “Ebony Fashion Fair Around The Clock,” the show featured four female models with DeKnight serving as commentator. Ticket prices ranged from $3.50 to $12. The prices remained that way from 1958 through 1966, with more than 50 percent of the earnings allocated for scholarships. Ebony Fashion Fair continues to lead the way in showing Black America the latest in high fashion. The Ebony Fashion Fair has not only premiered creations by the world’s biggest designers, but also made big stars out of some of its models.” What Ebony Fashion Fair sought out to do 50 years ago is still reaping the benefits.

Victoria Taylor, Lea Petersen, Samuel M. Deans and Anna Wenger.

Plaques were presented during intermission to the valued sponsors of the MVBCC. Amongst those awarded was Ms. Lea Petersen of The Gas Company. Ms. Petersen is the Economic Development Chair for the MVBCC and she’s also well loved by the Moreno Valley Community. “The Ebony Fashion show is an outstanding first class fun event that was brought to Moreno Valley by a lot of hard work of the President, Board of Directors and volunteers of the Moreno Valley Black Chamber Community Foundation.  It is always a pleasure to be able to sponsor an outstanding event like this and at the same time be able to support the Educational Services and Scholarship program run by the Chamber.  Could it get any better – the latest fashions, food and fun in support of a great cause for the community? I have already marked my calendar for next year’s show,” stated Ms. Petersen. 

Models on the runway.

Moreno Valley is grateful to have the wonderful Moreno Valley Black Chamber of Commerce Ms. Linda Wright, the President/Founder, and the Board of Directors Jerry Green, the Chair, Jacqui Miller, the Secretary, and Dorothy Miles, the Treasurer and all the many sponsors, and volunteers. They worked countless hours to get Ebony Fashion Fair here in Moreno Valley. The MVBCC have been serving Moreno Valley since 2004 and this year they have big events on their agenda.  Their Community Foundation is getting ready to launch its first ever Youth Work Force Development starting April 19th for the youth ages16-24. This foundation will help prepare help them find a job, prepare them for work, it will also teach them as to how they should conduct themselves as citizens of Moreno Valley. Another event on the horizon is the Business Expo dated May16th.

For more details about these exciting events or to become a member please call the MVBCC at (951) 697-7772.  This was truly a night to remember that should be added to the Moreno Valley archives. Happy 50th Anniversary Ebony Fashion Fair. This was truly a Glam Odyssey in Moreno Valley.