The Greatest Walk-Off Ever: USA vs. France Fashion Smackdown, 1973 Versailles Edition
(via YouTube) Halston at Versailles
In 1973, Eleanor Lambert, the genius who created the Best Dressed List, pitted five American designers—Halston, Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Anne Klein, and Stephen Burrows—against five French designers—Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, and Emanuel Ungaro—in the greatest walk-off of all time in front of an audience of 650 millionaires, royals, and socialites. The event became known as Le Grand Divertissement à Versailles.
Princess Grace of Monaco was there—so was Christina Onassis and Andy Warhol. Wish you had been there too? Now you can relive it.
This September, Versailles 73, a new documentary by director Riley Draper will chronicle the events of that night.
Check out the trailer for the film, below:
"Everyone knows about that night from the superficial standpoint of it," Draper told WWD. The documentary comprises interviews with some of the night's major players—including supermodels Pat Cleveland and Marisa Berenson—as well as rare found footage and stills. "What you see is all that remains."
The evening turned out to be what WWD calls a "turning point" for both American designers and African-American models.
“To actually have an exhibition with 12 African-American models at one time, in one show, in a palace in France, representing the United States and representing our fashion industry, is legendary — it’s historical,” Riley told the paper, which notes:
Originally viewed as underdogs, the U.S. designers emerged triumphant after a whirlwind 35-minute presentation that kicked off with Liza Minnelli singing “Bonjour, Paris!” and ended with delirious applause.