By Candace Jordan, Special to Tribune Newspapers
2:25 PM EDT, March 29, 2013
The Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum celebrated the opening of the exhibition "Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair" with its annual costume ball March 15.
More than 400 black-tie-clad patrons were greeted by models wearing pieces from the couture collection of Fashion Fair founder Eunice Walker Johnson. Partygoers had a first look at the largest temporary exhibition the museum has ever mounted, displayed in four galleries and featuring 67 ensembles that showcase five decades of fashion.
Attendees strolled by such dramatic creations as a Givenchy silver raffia evening gown, a Chloe "shower dress" designed by Karl Lagerfeld, a Bob Mackie evening ensemble with white feathers, and B Michael's colorful "rainbow dress."
Filing into dinner, the crowd created a bottleneck as it stopped to view the dramatic decor by Kehoe Designs. Costume Council President Nena Ivon said, "We stayed within our budget for our decor, but Mr. Kehoe decided it wasn't enough, so he did more."
Highlights included orchids hanging upside down in custom boxes on tables, and chandeliers draped in luxurious purple silk that gave guests the feeling of being inside a beautiful jewelry box.
Master of ceremonies Bill Zwecker introduced the honorary chair of the evening, Linda Johnson Rice. She spoke lovingly about her mother, Eunice, saying, "With principle, purpose and her impeccable taste, the world of fashion was revolutionized, and the way black women see themselves was changed forever."
The Ebony Fashion Fair traveled across the country for 50 years raising millions for African-American charities.
Following dinner, guests danced to the sounds of DJs Kiss and M.O.S. More than $400,000 was raised to support the museum's costume collection. The exhibition runs through Jan. 5, 2014.
Freelance writer Candace Jordan is involved with many local organizations, including some whose events she covers
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