Hello Fashionistas:
– 
– 
When a group of top African American models [10 out of 36] boarded a plane to Paris in 1973, they had no idea they would pull off fashion’s biggest coup. Pitting the crème de la crème of French couture fashion against upstart American designers, the 1973 Grand Divertissement at Versailles was not only the first time French and American designers battled it out on the runway, but smashed the glass ceiling irrevocably for ethnic models in high fashion across the globe.
​A still of Stephen Burrows runway presentation Versailles ’73 
Photo credit: arts.nationalpost.com
Stephen Burrows, fashion designer selected eight
 African American models to represent America for 
The Battle of Versailles_1973
 –
​Stephen & model Jennifer Brice_1973
 –
Released March 2015
 –
 –

“It was a big deal when American fashion went to Versailles. Who better than Robin Givhan to tell this captivating story?” – Diane von Furstenberg

On November 28, 1973, the world’s social elite gathered at the Palace of Versailles for an international fashion show. By the time the curtain came down on the evening’s spectacle, history had been made and the industry had been forever transformed. This is that story.

Conceived as a fund-raiser for the restoration of King Louis XIV’s palace, in the late fall of 1973, five top American designers faced off against five top French designers in an over-the-top runway extravaganza. An audience filled with celebrities and international jet-setters, including Princess Grace of Monaco, the Duchess of Windsor, Paloma Picasso, and Andy Warhol, were treated to an opulent performance featuring Liza Minnelli, Josephine Baker, and Rudolph Nureyev. What they saw would forever alter the history of fashion.

The Americans at the Battle of Versailles – Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Anne Klein, Halston, andStephen Burrows showed their work against the five French designers considered the best in the world –Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, and Marc Bohan of Christian Dior. Plagued by in-fighting, outsized egos, shoestring budgets, and innumerable technical difficulties, the American contingent had little chance of meeting the European’s exquisite and refined standards. But against all odds, the American energy and the domination by the fearless models (ten of whom, in a groundbreaking move, were African American) sent the audience reeling. By the end of the evening, the Americans had officially taken their place on the world’s stage, prompting a major shift in the way race, gender, sexuality, and economics would be treated in fashion for decades to come. As the curtain came down on The Battle of Versailles, American fashion was born; no longer would the world look to Europe to determine the stylistic trends of the day, from here forward, American sensibility and taste would command the world’s attention.

Pulitzer-Prize winning fashion journalist Robin Givhan offers a lively and meticulously well-researched account of this unique event. The Battle of Versailles is a sharp, engaging cultural history; this intimate examination of a single moment shows us how the world of fashion as we know it came to be.

 –
Robin Givhan

 –
 –
Robin Givhan is the fashion editor for The Washington Post.  She won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for criticism, the first such time for a fashion writer. The Pulitzer Committee explained its rationale by noting Givhan’s “witty, closely observed essays that transform fashion criticism into cultural criticism.”
– 

The native of Detroit, Michigan; she graduated from Princeton University  and in  1986, she earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. After working for the Detroit Free Press for about seven years, she held positions at the San Francisco Chronicle and Vogue magazine.

– 
 This high drama continues this week with models that broke the mode.
 –
 –
Bonjour!
– 
 Camille 
Camille Mitchell
Ambassador

NCM Logo_Small

 

Advertisements