Fashion Fair Cosmetics — the beloved, trailblazing luxury makeup brand catering to Black women — is set for a major comeback. After undergoing a change in ownership, a rebrand and a formulation makeover, the legendary beauty brand is hitting the shelves at Sephora this fall.
Originally launched in 1973 by Johnson Publishing (the company behind Ebony and Jet) to cater to Black women whose complexion needs were being overlooked by the mainstream cosmetics industry, the department store brand became synonymous with luxury Black beauty, and counted Diahann Carroll, Aretha Franklin and Pat Cleveland as its spokespeople. It was hugely successful, eventually growing its footprint to more than 2,500 stores worldwide and bringing in nearly $60 million a year by 2003, per Vogue. But as Johnson Publishing faced the difficulties of a shaky media landscape and competition from beauty conglomerates like L’Oréal and Estée Lauder that had finally begun to cater to a more inclusive range of skin tones, Fashion Fair struggled to keep up.
Enter Desirée Rogers, who served as CEO of Johnson Publishing from 2010 to 2017, and her business partner Cheryl Mayberry McKissack, a former colleague from the publishing company. Several years ago, the pair made it their mission to build a beauty empire catering to the needs of Black women: First, they bought mass-market cosmetics label Black Opal in 2019, and then raised funds to acquire Fashion Fair as well, proceeding to give it a full rebrand, formula overhaul and packaging facelift to relaunch at Sephora.
The 2021 version of Fashion Fair is sleek and modern, with the same focus on luxury as its predecessor. Clad in simple gold-and-white packaging, the range includes 14 lipsticks (including beloved shades from the original line), a primer with hyperpigmentation-fighting properties and powders in loose and pressed varieties. Actor KiKi Layne, best known for her role in If Beale Street Could Talk, serves as the ambassador of the newly reimagined brand.
“I feel like Fashion Fair is putting her crown back on,” Rogers told Marley Marius in an interview for Vogue. “The queen may have taken a little break, but she’s putting on her gown and her high heels, and sitting back in that throne. So watch us reign.” For more on the Fashion Fair relaunch, as well as a look back at the original brand with Pat Cleveland herself, head to Vogue.com.