Many black women may be familiar with the fashion fair cosmetics brand, founded in 1973 by Eunice Johnson, wife of John Johnson, the black publishing mogul behind the magazines Ebony and Jet.
Although the publishing house is not what it used to be, the new owner has given Fashion Fair its own makeover and put it back on store shelves.
“We are the queen,” said co-owner Desiree Rogers, who bought the company along with fellow former Ebony executive Cheryl Mayberry McKissack. âWe started 56 years ago, you know, and we were, if not the first, close to the first. And we’ve always focused on darker skin tones. It was not new. It wasn’t something that, you know, we thought like, ‘wow, isn’t that hip and cool to do, let’s be politically correct.’ It didn’t exist.
Founded in 1973, Fashion Fair was aimed at black women who could afford department store prices for cosmetics to suit their range of skin tones.
âSo for me, it was my first makeup. It was the first makeup my mom allowed me to use and so that’s a big deal in any girl’s life because all of us, when we’re young we want to wear something! âsays Rogers.
Packaged in iconic pink tubes and compact cases, the brand has been seen on hundreds of Ebony Fashion Fair models, as well as fashion show goers, over the years.
But as Johnson Publishing filed for bankruptcy in 2019, it sold Fashion Fair to former executives Rogers and McKissack.
The business duo, along with another partner, picked it up with the intention of returning it to its former glory.
âSo the opportunity to take advantage of the historic legacy for which Fashion Fair is known the world over, certainly all the work Ms. Johnson has done to bring Fashion Fair to market, is wonderful,â Mayberry said. McKissack. “But still a little scary because, you know, there’s a story and there’s a legacy and you know, we’ve got to make sure we get it right.”
Famous Chicago-native makeup artist Sam Fine returned to help redevelop the product.
Today’s fashion show is vegan and includes natural additives like vitamin C and green tea extract to provide a skin care benefit.
A range of lipsticks and foundations – in new and old colors – now come in white and gold packaging, perched on the shelves of retail beauty giant, Sephora, instead of department store counters. .
âBeing able to say that you can go in that gondola and find something for your cousin, sister and aunt, I think that’s unique because a lot of brands, even in their shade extensions, don’t really talk about the shades of , to color what speaks so well to us, âFine told WTTW News.
But Fashion Fair’s comeback comes at a time when women of color already have a lot more choice than at the turn of the 20th century.
Heritage brands have expanded their lines to include darker shades, and Rihanna’s all-inclusive Fenty beauty line has sold enough to turn the popstar into a billionaire business mogul.
Research shows that black women alone spent around $ 1.3 billion on colorful cosmetics in 2020, up from nearly $ 1.7 billion in 2019, likely due to the pandemic.
Rogers and McKissack say that while there’s room for everyone, Fashion Fair is the original – and its new makeover is for those who knew when, and the new faces who can learn how to. know him now.
âThey’re also going to see us and I think in a very different way and it’s really about us really focusing on women with darker skin tones. That’s our number one goal: we don’t do anything else, âMcKissack said.
The couple are also co-owners of Black Opal cosmetics, a mainstream brand designed for black women, sold in drugstores and Ulta.