Pulitzer prize-winning fashion critic Robin Givhan is writing about about the 1973 fashion battle in Versailles between American fashion upstarts and French fashion masters, known as the Grand Divertissement à Versailles. What’s that? You say you’ve never heard of the Grand Divertissement à Versailles? Well let us paint you a picture.
So back in the day, Eleanor Lambert (creator of Vanity Fair‘s International Best Dressed List) decided it would be fun to pit young American designers against established French couturiers. The American team was Anne Klein, Bill Blass, Halston, Stephen Burrows and a young guy named Oscar de la Renta. And the French team? Oh, just, you know, Yves Saint Laurent, Emanuel Ungaro, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Cardin.
Not the easiest team of designers to go up against — especially when you consider that at the time, half of them were in the absolute prime of their careers. So the Americans brought out all the stops, and they did something that was absolutely unprecedented. They cast the American half of the showdown with all Black models.
It was American fashion’s coming out party, and the clothes — to say nothing of the models — made a splash. So if Givhan, who is easily one of the most talented fashion writers alive today, is writing a book about such a compellingly interesting event, you know it’s gonna be good.
No word yet on when the book will be available, but you can bet as soon as we find out, we’ll let you know. Because if we could pre-order it right now, we would.