The Beauty of Blackness, a documentary that tells the story of Fashion Fair Cosmetics, the first cosmetics line created primarily for Black women, is available to stream on HBO Max.
Eunice Johnson – the co-founder of JET and EBONY Magazines – created the company in 1973 after she could not find products that complemented the skin color of the models who were a part of the Ebony Fashion Fair. The upstart cosmetics company provided darker tones of lipstick and eyeshadow as opposed to the more common, neutral hues.
“She started this company to really provide a solution for a problem,” said Cheryl Mayberry McKissack, President of Fashion Fair. “The general market companies who were selling cosmetics were not making shades for women of color.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the documentary features interviews with models, entertainers, and fashion experts such as celebrity MUA Sam Fine, designer Sergio Hudson, and the Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and actress Kelly Rowland.
“Fashion Fair Cosmetics provided some of the most important cultural moments for people of color,” said Fine. “With little to no representation in cosmetics, Eunice Johnson single-handedly made history and created a safe haven for women of color in cosmetics — for both consumers and employees alike. I was thrilled to participate in the documentary and speak on the historic rise, fall and relaunch of this iconic brand. Having become the first Creative Makeup Director and launching the first co-branded collection for the brand has been a highpoint in my career; a homecoming of sorts.”
After purchasing the company in 2019, McKissack and current CEO Desiree Rogers brought Fashion Fair to the next level, fully understanding the needs of today’s consumer. It now offers vegan products and includes a variety of makeup options for all skin types.
“It really is the first cosmetics company that was developed in honor of Black women’s glamour, beauty and fashion. Black women sit at the cornerstone of this amazing brand, and we don’t have many of those that have been around 50 plus years,” said Rogers.
Directed by Tiffany Johnson, The Beauty of Blackness was filmed in 2020, and produced by Sephora in collaboration with Epic Digital and Vox Creative.
“One of the things you see in it is that it tells the history and creates that bridge to be able to tell the story of what has been, but is also equally important to tell the story of what is and what can be,” said Mayberry McKissack. “And so, you’ve got like three different divisions: what happened, what is happening, and then you have people projecting what this means for the future.”
“Fashion Fair has always been inspired by the beauty, fashion and glamour of Black women,” added Rogers. “It gave Black women the opportunity to experience beauty in the same way other women had been doing for decades, so we understood the importance of documenting the relaunch. This documentary is a nod to the brand, which was one of the first, and continues to, recognize and celebrate Black beauty.”