On the block: pieces by Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Issey Miyake and more.

Ebony fashion fair
Credit: Zoë Bare

The spangles are flying in Chicago as Leslie Hindman Auctioneers gears up for a sale of 568 lots of A-List couture from Eunice Johnson’s Ebony Fashion Fair archives. The fair, which launched in 1958, began as an editorial feature in Ebony magazine and quickly morphed into a traveling collection, linking the African American market with the world of high fashion. It ran for 50 years.

Culled from the international runways from the 1970s through the 1990s, this set runs the gamut from esoterically zany to wearable (think feathers, fur, shredded chiffon, leather and whole lot of lamé).

There are rare Issey Miyake egg crate pieces, a Paco Rabanne chainmail dress, an extraordinary ostrich feather frock by Louis Feraud, Mongolian lamb hats and bags, and dozens of show-stopping gowns by Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Bill Blass and Jacqueline de Ribes—many with accompanying capes, gloves and turbans.

Low-key, luxe garb is also on the block: killer suiting (tweed, cashmere, fur trimmed, leather piped) by the likes of Givenchy, Valentino, and YSL. Though deemed “vintage,” most of these pieces feel fresh and modern.

At a top tier consignment shop, this apparel would carry a hefty price tag, but most of these pieces have been worn extensively on tour, so the catalogue estimate is surprisingly low. Be prepared to fight for your frocks—at these prices, dealers from around the world will be bidding to score a piece of sartorial history.

The sale starts June 10 at noon CST; a preview will run June 5 through June 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.