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19 Sep

Paris Fashion Week Events to Mark fiftieth Anniversary of

PARIS — To mark the 50th anniversary of the event that WWD dubbed the “Battle of Versailles,” director Deborah Riley Draper plans a special screening during Paris Fashion Week in tandem with a design competition backed by two of the participating houses.

The 1973 gala went down in history because the night that put American fashion, and African American models, on the map. It was the topic of Riley Draper’s 2012 documentary “Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution” and he or she plans to adapt it right into a feature film once the writers’ strike is lifted.

To mark the anniversary, her production company Coffee Bluff Pictures has teamed with French fashion house Ungaro and the With Love Halston Foundation to sponsor a contest for college students on the Istituto Marangoni fashion school in Paris designed to foster creativity and inclusion.

“Young people should be inspired, they usually have to know their history,” Riley Draper said. “We have now to reveal our young minds to all of the places that they will play and all of the places that they will innovate and be creative, and be sure that that that canvas is accessible to them.”

Participants will present their creations on Sept. 27, and the winners will likely be revealed on the Ungaro headquarters on Sept. 29 within the presence of the brand’s creative director Kobi Halperin.

Ungaro and the Halston foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Halston’s niece Lesley Frowick and fashion executive Steve Gold, are each awarding scholarships while the general winner will receive the Versailles ’73 Prize, which comes with a money award.

There may also be a special prize in honor of the late photographer Charles Tracy, who captured the Nov. 28, 1973 evening when five U.S. designers faced off against France’s top couturiers on the Palace of Versailles in front of an audience including Princess Grace of Monaco, Christina Onassis and Andy Warhol.

Le Grand Divertissement à Versailles — the brainchild of fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert, creator of the Best Dressed List — pitted Halston, Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Anne Klein and Stephen Burrows against Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin and Emanuel Ungaro.

On the evening of Sept. 29, a 50th anniversary director’s cut of the documentary will likely be screened on the Grand Rex cinema within the French capital, followed by a chat with Riley Draper and members of the forged. A second screening is on account of happen in Latest York City on Nov. 28, the precise date of the anniversary.  

Deborah Riley Draper

Courtesy of Coffee Bluff Pictures

Riley Draper was a vice chairman at promoting agency BBDO when she made the documentary, and he or she’s gone on to direct movies including “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice” and the miniseries “The Legacy of Black Wall Street.”

“This story literally launched my film profession and I’m perpetually grateful for that,” she said.

“This event is famous by way of who was within the audience, who literally presented the garments, and it was presently on the earth within the ‘70s that was right after a variety of movements — the Civil Rights Movement, protest around Vietnam — and there was a level of freedom and creativity and transformation that was all happening,” she recalled.

“Black models brought in a latest energy, a latest way of walking. The American designers brought in latest clothes,” she added. “I feel it inspires us all that we will contribute to something latest, different and exciting that’s transformative, and that you just don’t need to be a star in that moment.”

Certainly one of the topics of her documentary, Bethann Hardison, has gone on to turn out to be a filmmaker herself with the discharge this fall of “Invisible Beauty,” a documentary tracing her journey as a pioneering Black model, modeling agent and activist.

“There was a defiance about her then: her haircut, the indisputable fact that she threw down her train,” Riley Draper said. “It’s taken 50 years for her to come back into her own and be recognized for the entire work that she’s done previously five many years.”

She noted that several studies indicate that diverse firms perform higher.

“If you take a look at 1973, that was actually diversity and inclusion and access in fashion in ways which will haven’t occurred before or after,” she said. “You see a lot of what will be the long run and after all, they didn’t understand it then, but those trends are still holding.”

Riley Draper is completing a four-part docuseries, “James Brown: Say It Loud,” for A&E Network, and is looking forward to starting work on the “Versailles ‘73” feature film.

“The story will likely be centered around a Black female protagonist who is chosen to go to Paris and can experience all that we all know of this story, but we’ll get more of the backstory of what Latest York was like within the ‘70s,” she said. “It’s only a hilarious coming-of-age story steeped in real themes of race, gender, culture and sophistication.”

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