The Battle of Versailles
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. At the Battle of Versailles, five Americans - Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Anne Klein, Halston, and Stephen Burrows - faced off 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. Against all odds, the American energy and the domination by their fearless models (ten of whom, in a ground-breaking move, were African-American) sent the audience reeling. By the end of the evening, the Americans had transformed their place on the world stage and sowed the seeds for changing the way race, gender, sexuality, and economics would be treated in fashion for decades to come. The in-fighting between ego-inflated designers, the unforeseen obstacles instaging the show on a shoestring, the triumphant win, the vastly different fates of the designers post-show. Robin Givhan's meticulous research brings the event alive and places it firmly in the history of fashion, offering an intimate examination of a single moment that teaches us how the culture of fashion as we now know it came to be.