Fashion Fair Cosmetics was a pioneering Black-owned cosmetics company that played an important role in the beauty industry for decades. Founded in 1973 by Eunice Johnson, Fashion Fair was one of the first major makeup brands marketed specifically towards women of color. At its height, the brand was sold in upscale department stores across the U.S. and internationally. However, in recent years, Fashion Fair encountered challenges with falling sales and competition from newer black-owned cosmetics companies. This raises the question – does Fashion Fair still exist today?
History of Fashion Fair Cosmetics
Fashion Fair Cosmetics has its origins in the Ebony Fashion Fair, a traveling fashion show started in 1958 that showcased designer fashions and models of color. As the show grew in popularity during the 1960s and 70s, Eunice Johnson saw a need for makeup that could withstand the hot lights and complement the models’ darker skin tones. Most major cosmetics companies at the time did not cater to the needs of black women.
In 1973, Johnson founded Fashion Fair and began developing makeup specifically for women of color. The company’s first product was a line of foundations with deeper pigments designed to match the skin tones of black models and customers. Fashion Fair’s early advertisements highlighted the inadequacy of “white” makeup shades for women of color.
Within a few years, Fashion Fair had expanded into a full makeup line including lipsticks, eyeshadows, and powders. The brand reached a wider audience as it spread from the Ebony Fashion Fair to upscale department stores across America, including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Marshall Field’s. By the 1990s, Fashion Fair was sold in over 30 countries. The company prided itself on catering to “refined” women of color by using quality ingredients and charging department store prices.
Challenges and Declining Sales
Fashion Fair experienced its greatest success from the 1970s throughout the 1990s. However, the brand began to struggle in the early 2000s as new challengers emerged in the multicultural beauty market. Smaller black-owned cosmetics brands like IMAN Cosmetics and Black Opal began taking some of Fashion Fair’s customer base. Mass retailers like Maybelline and L’Oreal started offering makeup for a wider range of skin tones at lower prices. And new prestige brands like Fenty Beauty appealed to younger, multicultural shoppers.
Fashion Fair was also slow to adapt to the rise of online shopping and social media marketing in the beauty industry. The brand maintained its exclusive in-store department store model but began to seem outdated next to trendy digital-first companies. Fashion Fair’s glamorous, retro branding looked dated next to younger brands like Fenty, which used bold graphics and relatable celebrity faces in its marketing.
By 2017, Fashion Fair’s sales had dropped by more than 50% from their peak. The long-time President of Fashion Fair, Amy Hilfiger, left the company that year. Without new leadership or a clear plan to revamp its products and marketing, Fashion Fair’s decline continued. The next few years brought store closures, distribution challenges, and concerns about the fate of the once-legendary brand.
Acquisition by Desiree Rogers
In 2019, Fashion Fair Cosmetics got a chance at revival when it was acquired by Desiree Rogers. Rogers, the former CEO of Johnson Publishing Company, spearheaded efforts to revive Fashion Fair and make it competitive again.
Under Rogers, Fashion Fair has worked to update its product lineup. In 2020, the brand launched the Makeup of the Moment collection, its first new makeup offering in a decade. The line features modern takes on Fashion Fair’s signature lipsticks and foundations, along with new eye and face palettes.
Fashion Fair has also aimed to appeal to younger, savvier shoppers with lower prices and edgier packaging. The company has expanded beyond department stores into Ulta Beauty, the ecommerce site BeautyStack, and its own revamped website. Digital marketing and influencer campaigns help spread awareness of the revived brand to new demographics.
While still small compared to giants like MAC and Lancôme, Fashion Fair is carrying forward its legacy as one of the pioneering black-owned makeup brands. The company is positioning itself as an inclusive, inspiring makeup line celebrating diversity and Black glamour.
Current Product Offerings
Fashion Fair’s product lineup today combines the brand’s heritage with more on-trend, contemporary makeup. Some key products include:
– **Foundations** – Fashion Fair’s foundations now come in 50 shades to match a wide range of skin tones. The formulas include buildable coverage and moisturizing ingredients.
– **Lipsticks** – The new Hydrating Lip Colors give a creamy, luminous finish. Shades range from nudes to bold reds, with names paying homage to important women of color.
– **Eyeshadow Palettes** – Palettes like Spice and Chocolate feature pigmented shadows in warm neutral tones and smoky shades. Glittery accent colors add drama.
– **Highlighting Palettes** – Allure and Uplift palettes allow customizable highlighting and contouring for different complexions.
– **Makeup Tools** – Brush sets and makeup sponges help achieve airbrushed and sculpted makeup applications.
Availability in Stores and Online
Here is where you can currently find Fashion Fair cosmetics:
– The Fashion Fair website (fashionfair.com) ships to the U.S. and Canada.
– Ulta Beauty locations across the U.S. and online at ulta.com.
– BeautyStack (beautystack.com), a clean beauty ecommerce site.
– Certain Macy’s department store locations.
– The brand occasionally runs pop-up shops in malls or hosts special events in major cities.
Fashion Fair still maintains a smaller retail presence than bigger brands. But its growing online availability makes the makeup accessible to shoppers across North America. The company also does limited distribution to certain retailers and beauty stores in the Middle East, UK, South Africa, and the Caribbean.
Affordability and Price Range
Today’s Fashion Fair cosmetics are more affordable than in the brand’s department store era:
– Foundations cost $25-$38 depending on the formula
– Lipsticks cost $20 each
– Eye and face palettes range from $25-$50
– Makeup tools and brushes cost $10-$30
The new lineup is priced to compete with other prestige makeup lines at Ulta and Macy’s. Fashion Fair is less expensive than high-end brands like Tom Ford or Cle de Peau. But it costs more than mass market drugstore makeup. The products are considered “mid-tier” in terms of affordability.
While no longer as opulently-priced as before, Fashion Fair remains committed to quality ingredients despite lowering costs. The brand caters to beauty enthusiasts who want luxurious, runway-inspired makeup at reasonable prices.
Signature Aesthetic and Brand Image
Fashion Fair’s brand image balances celebrating its history with appealing to new generations. Some defining features include:
– **Glitz and glamour** – Fashion Fair’s roots in the Ebony Fashion Fair inspire dazzling, runway-worthy looks. Shimmery eyeshadows, glossy lips, and luminous complexions take center stage.
– **Rich color payoff** – Pigment is key to complementing deeper skin tones. Bold, saturated hues allow women of color to wear any vivid shade imaginable.
– **Black beauty and pride** – As one of the first major black-owned beauty brands, Fashion Fair has an enduring legacy as a symbol of prestige and self-expression for black women.
– **Heritage meets modern** – The revived brand blends Fashion Fair’s storied history with contemporary, fashion-forward appeal. Cleaner packaging and young models connect to new generations.
– **Inclusivity** – While remaining loyal to women of color, Fashion Fair now markets itself as welcoming to all by offering 50 foundation shades and celebrating diversity.
As it evolves, Fashion Fair aims to retain its special place in black beauty culture while also embracing a diverse, progressive future.
Fashion Fair’s Impact and Legacy
At its peak from the 1970s-90s, Fashion Fair made several groundbreaking contributions:
– Created accessible, quality makeup for black women when the beauty industry ignored their needs.
– Provided elegant representation of black beauty in its branding and makeup artistry.
– Opened doors for black models, makeup artists, advertisers, and entrepreneurs in the fashion and beauty spaces.
– Inspired other black-owned beauty brands to form and meet the demand for diversity.
– Cemented “prestige” positioning with luxury store distribution and refined image, counteracting stereotypes.
– Promoted black excellence through collaborations with the Ebony Fashion Fair and support of black designers, nonprofits, and community arts programs.
While past its prime today, Fashion Fair endures as an iconic symbol of black entrepreneurship and self-expression. Its founders were beauty industry trailblazers who believed in elegance, quality, and race pride. The revived brand inherits this empowering legacy as it redefines itself for the future.
Fashion Fair Cosmetics has endured highs and lows over the past 50 years. While the brand struggled in the 2000s and 2010s, it has recently found new life under owner Desiree Rogers. Though still a small player compared to conglomerate-owned giants, the new Fashion Fair aims to balance nostalgia and innovation.
With its revived makeup lineup and modernized marketing, Fashion Fair continues to celebrate black beauty and diversity. The brand retains a devoted following among longtime customers, while also attracting new fans. Fashion Fair’s iconic history provides a powerful heritage, even as the company evolves to stay relevant. While not as ubiquitous as it once was in department stores, Fashion Fair persists as an enduring symbol of black entrepreneurship, creativity, and pride. For those reasons, it seems the legendary brand still has a place in the beauty world today.