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July 28 2014

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2 posts tagged "Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution"

French Castle, American Story

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2013 marks the fortieth anniversary of Le Grand Divertissement è Versailles, the runway battle royal that took place in 1973 between French fashion houses (Givenchy, Dior, Ungaro, Yves Saint Laurent, and Pierre Cardin) and American designers (Halston, Oscar de la Renta, Anne Klein, Stephen Burrows, and Bill Blass). Held as a fundraiser to restore the palace, the evening was attended by everyone from Andy Warhol to Princess Grace of Monaco, and, in addition to a bevy of couture, featured performances by the likes of Liza Minnelli and Josephine Baker (above).

But aside from being, perhaps, the most epic runway spectacle to date, Versailles marked the first time African-American models took a prominent place on the European fashion stage. Last night, in honor of the anniversary, and in celebration of Women’s History Month, the Fashion Institute of Technology hosted a screening of Deborah Riley Draper’s 2012 documentary, Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution. And the historic event’s stars, like Pat Cleveland (below, right), Billie Blair, Norma Jean Darden, and Bethann Hardison, among others, turned out for the film and a lively panel discussion. Continue Reading “French Castle, American Story” »

Celebrating Le Grand Divertissement à Versailles, The “Original FNO”

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While the streets were mobbed with FNO-goers last night, a more dignified affair was going on at Tiffany & Co. The brand sponsored the New York premiere of Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution at the Paris Theatre and then an after-party celebrating the film at its Fifth Avenue flagship. The film tells the story of a gaggle of American designers (Halston, Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Anne Klein, and Stephen Burrows) and models (including Pat Cleveland, Marisa Berenson, Alva Chinn, Bethann Hardison, and China Machado) during a landmark fashion moment—Le Grand Divertissement à Versailles. It was a battle royale runway show against French design giants like Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior, the first moment when American fashion proved it could play on the European stage.

So it was fitting that vintage guru Cameron Silver of Decades, also the film’s narrator, was in attendance, chiming in on the importance of the designers in the film. But no one could do the job better than the original models from the show, many of whom were at the party last night. “The emphasis went from that side of the pond to this side of the pond,” Chinn (pictured, right) told Style.com. “We became the fashion people and they became the stepchildren. They needed to learn from us.” The excitement of the evening, at both Tiffany’s and on FNO in general, harkened back to the drama and rush of the ’73 Versailles show. “You had a room full of the most glamorous, fabulous people in the world—it was the original FNO,” said the film’s director, Deborah Riley Draper. “There would be no tonight if there wasn’t a then.”

Photo: Robin Marchant / Getty Images