Photograph: Anna Knott
When you were raised by parents as stylish and urbane as the late John and Eunice Johnson, founders of Ebony and Jet magazines, it’s no surprise that those qualities rub off on you. Which explains a lot about the savvy Linda Johnson Rice, 54, chairwoman of the Johnson Publishing Company. “My mother always said that whatever you buy, it should be of the highest possible quality,” says Rice.
Eunice Johnson took her young daughter along to Paris couture shows, and from 1959 to 2009 she brought high fashion to African American women around the country as the creative force behind the Ebony Fashion Fair. That touring fashion show is now the focus of an exhibition at the Chicago History Museum. Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair (through January 5, 2014) includes 68 garments by the greatest designers of the 20th century, such as Bill Blass, Christian Lacroix, and Yves Saint Laurent.
Her mother’s taste is also on display at the Gold Coast condo where Rice (divorced) grew up and raised her daughter, Alexa, now 24. But Rice’s own bold style shines through. To see a few of her favorite things from past and present, see below.
10 Things She Loves
Photography: (Christian Lacroix dress) Courtesy of Chicago History Museum; (all others) Anna Knott
SAPPHIRE AND DIAMOND EARRINGS (Similar style, Trabert & Hoeffer, 111 E. Oak St.)
“I gave these to my daughter for her 21st birthday. They’re beautiful and a great investment.”
LONG WALK TO FREEDOM BY NELSON MANDELA ($18, Seminary Co-op Bookstore, 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave.)
“Along with my father, Mandela is my hero. He signed this copy.”
FIRE HOSE ART BY THEASTER GATES (Similar pieces, Kavi Gupta Gallery, kavigupta.com)
“It represents the civil rights movement, how horribly African Americans were treated.”
FLOATING GARDENIAS ($110 for six flowers, Henry Hampton Floral, 1335 S. State St.)
“They complete a room without a lot of fuss.”
HERMÈS EQUESTRIAN GEAR (Bridles start at $1,150, reins start at $370; Hermès, 25 E. Oak St.)
“I’ve been riding since I was seven. If I were a horse, I would want an Hermès halter.”
VINTAGE PHOTO OF SAMMY DAVIS JR.
“It’s a wonderful photo, but aside from that, he was a great family friend and sang at my wedding.”
BARBARA BATES LEATHER DRESS ($1,000, by special order at barbarabatesdesigns.com)
“Bates does custom designs in all fabrics. But I happen to like her leather pieces.”
MARINO MARINI SCULPTURE
“The horse is my favorite animal. My mom bought this. It’s a really strong piece, and I grew up with and then inherited it.”
VINTAGE YSL BELT
“Yves Saint Laurent has a special place in my heart because he was my mother’s favorite designer. This belt was hers.”
CHRISTIAN LACROIX DRESS
“This ensemble from Lacroix’s fall 1987 collection is one of the greats from the Ebony Fashion Fair. It’s at the Chicago History Museum now.”
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