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Stars of ‘Versailles 73’ film discuss fashion world diversity

Category: Lecture-Discussion2018-07-25  
logoIt was the great Franco-American experiment: Five fashion designers from each country would show collections at a runway spectacular in a historic collaboration of the two. The location was equally historic: The Queen’s Theatre at the French Palace of Versailles, the restoration of which would be the beneficiary for the gala evening.

But it wasn’t just the coming together of the two countries in 1973 that brought this other revolution to the palace. The night was also a watershed moment for people of color in the industry with African American models and one African American designer giving the Battle of Versailles, as it would later be known, its ecstatic joie de vivre.

At a screening of Deborah Riley Draper’s documentary “Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution” recently presented by SFFILM at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Phyllis Wattis Theater, two of the battle’s key participants, model Pat Cleveland and American designer Stephen Burrows, explained the significance of that long-ago evening in conversation with fashion designer Kevan Hall.

“Stephen brought those rainbow colors to Versailles,” Cleveland, 68, said of Burrows’ vibrant signature aesthetic. “He also brought rainbow people to Versailles.”

The Battle of Versailles had all the ingredients to become the stuff of fashion legend. Storied designers Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, Marc Bohan for Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy represented the French, while Seventh Avenue superstars Burrows, Halston, Oscar de la Renta, Anne Klein and Bill Blass became Team America. “Versailles ’73” is one of two documentaries made about the fashion show, and Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan’s book “The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled Into the Spotlight and Made History” is also being adapted for HBO by filmmaker Ava DuVernay (“Selma”).
Location: SFMOMA - Phyllis Wattis Theater


Stars of ‘Versailles 73’ film discuss fashion world diversity2018-07-25Lecture-Discussion