Critically Acclaimed Fashion Documentary “Versailles ’73” to Screen at Drexel April 18
April 04, 2013
A screening of the critically acclaimed documentary film “Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution,” which explores a moment that changed the course of fashion history, will take place at Drexel University on Thursday, April 18 at 6 p.m.
The film recounts the 1973 fashion face-off between American and French designers at Chateau de Versailles that changed the global perception of African American models and made a name for American designers overseas.
The film’s award-winning writer and producer Deborah Riley Draper will introduce the film and participate in an audience question-and-answer session following the screening. African American fashion model Pat Cleveland, who walked the Versailles runway in 1973 and is featured in the film, will also participate in the discussion.
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.
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.