Ebony credits the inspiration for the show to Mrs. Dent, but what do you think the weight of your mothers impact was once she connected with the project?
My mother’s involvement and support of the show(s) had tremendous weight and impact. She had the creativity, style, sophistication, knowledge and access to capital that made the show into what it grew to be.
Was there/is there any serious rival to EFF?
Not in my recollection.
Do you consider your mother a fashion icon, and what made her so in your eyes?
Absolutely! My mother had vision. She selected the most theatrical and intricately designed pieces by the top designers. She also reached into the African American design community, identifying young talented talent. And then brought them all together to create a show like no other. She “told” African Americans nationally that they could wear anything. She helped create self-confidence. She leveraged the show to raise millions of dollars to help a community in need—the show sent African Americans to college, it helped benefit the disadvantaged, the homeless and the sick among other things.
What was distinctive about her style?
Her style was distinctive because she would push the envelope–-she was never afraid, she dared herself to be different, she had no fear of fashion, at all.
Are you disappointed she never made the best-dressed list?
Yes. She was overlooked and well deserved.
Click through to see photos of Johnson at shows, with fashion luminaries like Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld and Andre Leon Talley, and of the EFF through the years.
Photos: Johnson Publishing Company