By Desiree Johnson

Killeen Daily Herald

Anna Sui, Oscar de la Renta, Christian Dior, Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent aren't typically mentioned in the same breath as "Killeen," but for one day, residents will have the opportunity to feel like they're in the fashion capital of the world. Ebony Fashion Fair, the self-proclaimed world's largest traveling fashion show, will arrive at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center on Tuesday.

The event, hosted by the Mu Theta Omega chapter of the sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc., arrives in Killeen every other year, and each time proves to be a big production.

The Civic and Conference Center, which often hosts similar events such as hair shows and pageants, makes special provisions for the fashion fair and its crew.

"The main difference is setting up a runway, something we don't usually have to do," said Connie Kuehl, director of the Civic and Conference Center. "The center isn't designed for professional dressing rooms either, so we use a curtained area for the models – not to mention all the runway lights and music equipment.

"It can be difficult, but we make it work."

According to organizers of the Ebony Fashion Fair, the event has led the way in showing black America the latest in high fashion trends since 1958. The pieces in this year's 50th anniversary show follow the theme "Glam Odyssey: A Fashion Journey into Bliss and Beyond."

The journey of fashion is ever-evolving: Many of the fashions that first appeared "wild" on the runways have become wardrobe staples. Audiences were appalled when fashion designer Rudi Gernreich

debuted a thong two-piece swimsuit in the 1975 Fashion Fair; yet today, thongs have become a necessary fashion statement for women who wish to hide their panty lines.

"These aren't just amateurs but professional models who really know how to strut," said Killeen event chairwoman Charlotte Graves. "We have people from all over the world in our community who may have seen high fashion in places like Paris and New York, and now they can see it in Killeen, too."

Fabulous designs are only the beginning of the event.

According to its Web site, the show is sponsored by nearly 180 non-profit organizations and has raised more than $54 million for various scholarship groups.

Killeen is taking part in the charitable spirit, too. Proceeds from the event go toward scholarships awarded to Central Texas high school seniors every year.

"We usually split up $8,000 among scholarship winners, but this year we want to exceed our goal and raise even more," Graves said. She said applications are available in high school guidance counselors' offices, and she strongly encourages students to apply.

Not only do ticket prices benefit education, but participants will not go home empty-handed. The price of admission includes the choice of a one-year subscription to Ebony magazine or a six-month subscription to Jet magazine; a copy of the Ebony Fashion Fair magazine; and a chance to win prizes in a drawing that occurs during the show's intermission.

That's not all: The event also features a silent auction during the social hour before the fashion show begins.

"It's a classy affair, and people like to dress up and come out. It's a great time to mingle and network with people in the community," Graves said. "Not to mention, you get to see fashions from all over the world as well as clothes for every day.

"If you like (fashion), this is your opportunity to find out what's in and what's hot."

Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show begins at 7 p.m. The Civic and Conference Center is located at 3601 S. W. S. Young Drive in Killeen.

Tickets, which are $30 in advance and $21 for students, are available at Under One Roof bookstore and Obsessions by Carolyn, both in Killeen. Tickets will be available at a higher price at the door on the night of the show.

For more information or to order advance tickets, contact Graves at (254) 258-5880. For more information on the Ebony Fashion Fair, visit

Contact Desiree Johnson at or call (254) 501-7559

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