The forever elegant restaurateur B. Smith was honored at the Fashion Legacy Association for Industry Recognition (FLAIR) biennial charity event. The Aug. 22 gathering was held at Mason Fine Art and included live entertainment and a runway fashion show featuring Atlanta-based designers.
Although Smith is now known as an entrepreneur who launched successful B. Smith’s restaurants and even became a talk show host and actress, she was first a powerful force in the modeling industry. She was the first Black model to cover Mademoiselle in the 1970s, and she was a Fashion Fair model for Ebony.
Other Ebony model alums joined Smith at the FLAIR celebration, including Chris Hilson — who is the mother of singer Keri Hilson — Faye Mosley and Atlanta event planner Sonjia W. Young.
The Ebony Fashion Fair was an on-the-road pageant that ran from 1958 through 2009 and featured some of the most stunning Black models in the country. The shows raised money for several African-American charities, such as the United Negro College Fund and sickle-cell anemia research, NPR reported.
Steve Williams, the Ebony tour manager from 1981 through 2009, recalled how the models he encountered learned so much from their experience in the pageant, and in many cases, such as with Smith, the girls would go on to do amazing things after their modeling career ended.
“Ebony was known for mixing the veteran, experienced models with the novice who just had a certain look,” Williams said. “We would expose them on how to interact with prime ministers, college presidents … It was really taking them under our wing. We’ve developed some very outstanding personalities.”
Smith was accompanied by her husband, Dan Gasby, throughout the evening and was presented with a birthday cake at the main event. She strutted down the runway while Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” filled the room.
Smith turned 66 on Aug. 24.
Check out a photo gallery of the FLAIR attendees, featuring B. Smith, Keri Hilson, Andrew Young, and more.