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Published: Friday, 11/18/2005

Looking good is a state of mind, show's producer says

BY RHONDA B. SEWELL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A layered print silk chiffon
gown designed by Alberto
Makali is accented with a jeweled
harness and transparent
side insets. A layered print silk chiffon gown designed by Alberto Makali is accented with a jeweled harness and transparent side insets.
Enlarge

The producer and director of the world's largest traveling fashion production, Ebony Fashion Fair, says the fashion focus now is about a woman's "fashionable state of mind," not the size or shape of her body.

Amen!

"If you've got the desire to wear the best and the attitude to wear it well, then you are fit to be fabulous," said Eunice W. Johnson, wife of the late publishing giant John H. Johnson, the founder of Ebony and Jet magazines who died in August.

Mrs. Johnson has produced Ebony Fashion Fair since 1963. The show's first tour featured four models in 1958.

Mrs. Johnson's mantra of mind over size and shape is a central tenet of the 48th annual show, scheduled to make its Toledo stopover at 5 p.m. Sunday in the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd.

"Whether you're a size 4 or size 4X, you're fit to wear the array of fabulous new looks shown on the runways," Mrs. Johnson said.

This year's theme, "Fit to Be Fabulous," will showcase an array of looks from the catwalks of New York, Milan, London, and Paris.

Cheryl Slack, local fashion show chairman, said Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.'s local graduate chapter Zeta Alpha Omega in conjunction with its undergraduate chapters Alpha Lambda at the University of Toledo, and Iota Iota at Bowling Green State University have joined to present the show in Toledo.

"It's our largest fund-raiser and we've been hosting the show for years. The proceeds from the show go to community service such as sickle cell research, health screenings, and other health activities, and scholarships for mostly high school students going on to college. We have awarded about $5,000 in scholarships this year," Mrs. Slack said.

Each year, 10 women, including one plus-size model, and two male models are chosen from hundreds who audition for the traveling show. Shows are presented in about 180 cities.

The show has raised millions of dollars for various African American organizations including AKA, the United Negro College Fund, Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., and Links, Inc.

Contact Rhonda B. Sewell at: rsewell@theblade.com

or 419-724-6101.



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