Eunice Walker Johnson: Modern Renaissance Woman and Pioneer

At first look, the world of fashion can sometimes seem like it only consists of clothing. When
one digs deeper, however, they realize that the world of fashion is comprised of so much more
than just clothes: it is advertising, design, entrepreneurship, creative theater, and short film...you name it, fashion has it,
and needs it, for that matter. Many key players in fashion have gained notoriety for one specific
area of expertise, but Eunice Walker Johnson created a brand-new precedent for those working
in the fashion industry; specifically women who worked in the fashion industry by noting that
women could curate fashion and pave the way for business, as well.
The Johnson name is synonymous with the conception of Ebony Magazine, as Walker
Johnson’s husband, John H. Johnson created the magazine. But it was Walker Johsnon herself
who created the title of “Ebony;” a name that would correlate not only with high fashion but also
with diversity in print. Walker Johnson served as secretary-treasurer of this publication that she
and her husband built together. Another one of the most revolutionary shows known to fashion,
the Ebony Fashion Fair, a touring show featuring couture and ready-to-wear pieces mainly
modeled by and aimed toward African American women; another one of Walker’s famous
creations. Johnson also launched her own line of cosmetics, Fashion Fair Cosmetics, whose
target was complexions of women of color; a jaunt in a positive and monumental direction that
makeup had not yet seen. Johnson's creation of Fashion Fair led other household name
cosmetic brands such as Revlon, Avon and Max Factor to follow suit and create makeup for
different skin colors. In addition to starting and maintaining such projects, Johnson also served
as the chair of the Ebony Fashion Fair from 1961 until 2009, soon before her passing in 2010.
Walker Johnson paved the way for the modern business woman in the world of fashion. Not
only did she have a hand in several pots of the fashion world, but also she was equally
successful in all of her areas of interest. And, her success as a Black woman was and is even
more prominent, as fashion was not and is not kind to Black people and people of color. Walker
Johnson saw a need for diversity and more Black people in the industry, and she worked hard
and made it happen in a charismatic, historical way. Without Ebony Magazine, the Ebony
Fashion Fair, or Fashion Fair cosmetics, the fashion and runway and journalism industries might
not be what they are today. In terms of diversity and the equality of Black people and people of
color, fashion has a long way to go, but let us not let the industriousness and diligence of
Walker Johnson go unnoticed. Walker Johnson opened the doors for diversity in fashion,
especially for Black women; we need to continue what she started. By: Emily Goldberg