Versailles '73: An American Revolution

In 2011, 2012 and 2013, we covered part of the evolution of a feature documentary from Coffee Bluff Pictures titled “Versailles ‘73: American Runway Revolution,” about the legendary 1973 fashion showdown between the French and Americans, fittingly nicknamed the “Battle of Versailles.”

Directed by Deborah Riley Draper, the feature documentary follows the events leading up to the iconic fashion effrontery at the Chateau de Versailles on November 28, 1973, between American and French designers. The film recounts the event’s beginnings as a fundraiser to restore the Palace of Versailles, to the competition that emerged between the lions of haute couture, to the ultimate upset when American designs out-shined the French and forever changed the course of fashion history with great clothes and, what was considered the tour de force of the event, the black models who sashayed down the runway.

Announced today, Ava DuVernay will direct a scripted version of  “The Battle of Versailles,” as the film will be titled, for HBO Films, based on the 2015 book of the same name by Robin Givhan, which also documents that historic fashion event that essentially helped put black models on the map. In addition to directing, DuVernay will executive produce and co-write the project with Michael Starrbury (“The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete”).

Karen Glass and Angela Mancuso will also exec produce, with author Givhan serving as a consultant.

A slice of history certainly worth revisiting – especially if you’re in the dark (no pun intended) – while we wait for DuVernay’s scripted take on the subject matter for HBO Films (no ETA yet, as it’s still early in development), check out Deborah Riley Draper’s documentary which is currently available on various home video platforms.

The full titled of Givhan’s book is “The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History.” You can pick up a copy here.

The in-demand DuVernay was recently tapped by Disney to adapt “A Wrinkle In Time,” a science/fantasy novel by Madeleine L’Engle. Meanwhile Starrbury co-created “The Legends of Chamberlain Heights,” an upcoming new Comedy Central series.

Trailer for “Versailles ‘73” below: