Eunice W. Johnson and her husband, publisher John H. Johnson, co-founded Black lifestyle magazine, Ebony. Eunice Johnson founded Ebony Fashion Fair in 1956, a feature in Ebony magazine that would evolve into a traveling fashion show bringing the latest in haute couture fashion to Black communities across the United States. The Chicago History Museum honors Mrs. Johnson and her massive collection of couture in Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair. It is now on exhibit through January 2014.
Eunice was often the only black buyer in the room on her trips to shop the Fashion shows in Europe. She didn't necessarily gain entrance very easily. Johnson represented an invisible affluent black population able and willing to wear the best fashions. Unfortunately they were hindered by limited access to high fashion, necessitating the traveling shows. They were glamorous shows in which comedians, singers and musicians took part.
However, the huge ensembles packed on to not-so-glamorous Greyhound buses. For the fashion troupes, it was fashion democratized right down to its essence.