Critically Acclaimed Fashion Documentary “Versailles ’73” to Screen at Drexel April 18

Deborah Draper
Writer and producer Deborah Riley Draper will join Drexel for screening of documentary film “Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution"

The screening will take place in the URBN Annex Screening Room (34th and Filbert Streets). The event is hosted by the Design & Merchandising Program in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. It is free and open to the public.

In an era known for protests, the 1973 Versailles Fashion Ball in Paris set the stage for a fashion coup that is remembered to this day. The event, originally billed as a fundraiser to restore the Palace at Versailles, pitted a relatively unknown group of American designers eager to become household names on the European fashion scene against the lions of French haute couture. The result of this runway rumble realigned the fashion world with implications for a variety of artistic and cultural mediums.

Draper first heard about the ’73 Versailles Ball almost 40 years later on a news radio program. Her curiosity would eventually drive her to direct and produce “Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution,” her debut film, which captures the story of that groundbreaking night in November 1973.


Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution | Official Trailer | FilmBuff
When African American models such as Bethann Hardison, Pat Cleveland, Alva Chinn, and Billie Blair boarded the plane to Paris in 1973, they had no idea they would help change the course of fashion and pull off its biggest coup. The 1973 Grand Divertissement at Versailles became history and legend for pitting the crème de la crème of French couture fashion - Givenchy, Dior, Ungaro, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin against upstart American designers Halston, Oscar de la Renta, Anne Klein, Stephen Burrows and Bill Blass. It was not only the first time French and American designers were shown together but it smashed the glass ceiling loudly and irrevocably for ethnic models in high fashion across the globe. Official Website – IMDb – Twitter – ABOUT FILMBUFF FilmBuff is an award-winning full-service global sales and distribution company, with a focus on delivering high quality, compelling film and video to targeted audiences. Founded in 2007, FilmBuff consistently introduces audiences to the best in independent film, including Oscar-nominated EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, Sundance Audience Award winner, SENNA, Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, THE HOUSE I LIVE IN, Jared Leto’s ARTIFACT, Adam Carolla’s ROAD HARD, THE INTERNET’S OWN BOY, BURT’S BUZZ, SPRING, and many others. Offering a comprehensive array of services and solutions for today’s evolving media landscape, FilmBuff partners with creative filmmakers, publishers and brand marketers to reach, engage and inspire viewers around the world. Connect with FilmBuff at and

Pat Cleveland modeled for designers such as Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, Thierry Mugler and Christian Dior, and was a favorite of American fashion icon Halston, who participated in the ’73 Versailles event. Along with Karen Bjornson and Anjelica Huston, Cleveland belonged to Halston’s regular troupe of models, nicknamed “the Halstonettes.”

The Drexel Historic Costume Collection will display a Halston-designed gown in The URBN Annex’s Pearlstein Gallery throughout the evening. Sandra Blumberg, owner of Philadelphia-based art consulting firm Blumberg & Harris, donated the gown, which will be integrated with the upcoming Drexel Highlights collection.

“The Versailles Ball was a real highlight for me in the ‘70s. I was invited by Halston and Eleanor Lambert to attend,” said Blumberg, who also will be attending the screening and discussion.