On last week's quiet rainy Sunday, the Concert Hall of the Kennedy Center was filled with Washingtonians primed for one of the city's most popular fashion shows, The Ebony Fashion Fair. The show's theme is right on the cutting edge -- "Body Language" and a jazz combo on stage creates the mood of the evening, from burlesque and bawdy to subdued and sophisticated. And so go the clothes . . . some cheek, some chic.
"Ladies, hold on to your seats, because you're in for a treat. I call them barely legal bikinis, because anything less would be a crime," announced Shayla Simpson as two male models dance on the stage to a saucy beat in only gold lame' G-strings. Simpson, who was born and raised in the District, writes her own catchy commentary and choreographs the Ebony show, which this year takes a 188-city tour. Organized by Ebony magazine's Johnson Publishing Co. (its newest magazine, E M-Ebony, hits the stands Nov. 1), the Fashion Fair is in its 28th year.
The crowd is as diverse as the mood, women who've been coming to the Ebony Fair for years and who wouldn't dare miss it, and younger newcomers full of whistles and applause. With good reason. The show raises about $2 million a year, for the United Negro College Fund and other scholarship funds.
The commentary may not be poetic, but the clothes all rhyme -- by the big names, like Claude Montana and Jacqueline de Ribes and the new ones, like Tony Chase, Towanna and Dy'Anne Vosges.
The combo starts up again as a model slinks out in a snug gold dress. Simpson says, "Here's a juicy Jackie Rogers, in panne velvet that's just begging to be touched."