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Tuscarawas News Detail

Kent State Fashion School to Screen “Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution”

Posted Feb. 11, 2013
enter photo description
"Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution," a
documentary about the show that changed fashion history
by featuring African-American models and designers, will be
shown on Feb. 23 in Rockwell Hall Auditorium. 

The Fashion School at Kent State University will host a screening of fashion documentary "Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution" with an accompanying director's lecture, Saturday, Feb. 23, in Rockwell Hall Auditorium. The film is presented as part of campus programming for Black History Month. Rockwell Hall is located at 515 Hilltop Dr. on the Kent Campus.

The event opens with a VIP reception at 6 p.m.; the screening and lecture will begin at 7:30 p.m. Some of the fashion icons featured in the documentary will be in attendance at the screening, and the VIP reception will include opportunities to interact with the legendary models.

Directed by Deborah Riley Draper, the documentary details the iconic 1973 fashion show Le Grand Divertissement à Versailles. Fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert and Palace of Versailles curator Gerald Van der Kemp created the fashion show as a fundraiser for Versailles restorations. The show put French designers Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin and Emanuel Ungaro up against American underdogs Anne Klein, Stephen Burrows, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta and Halston in competition.

In front of an audience of 800 attendees, including Andy Warhol, Christina Onassis, Princess Grace of Monaco and Josephine Baker, the American designers claimed victory. The show changed fashion history by featuring African-American models and designers.

"The film is important to bring to Kent State because it was a groundbreaking event," says Tameka Ellington, assistant professor of fashion design and merchandising. "It was the first event where African- American designers and models were showcased, and it paved the way for African-Americans in the fashion industry."

The 1973 event featured grounding-breaking models of color Billie Blair, Pat Cleveland, Alva Chinn, Norma Jean Darden, Charlene Dash, Bethann Hardison, Barbara Jackson, China Machado, Jennifer Brice, Ramona Saunders and Amina Warsuma.

Cost for the event is $35 for admission to the pre-screening VIP reception, lecture and screening; $20 for admission to the lecture and screening; and $10 for student admission to the lecture and screening.

Tickets are available at the door, cash only. To RSVP for the VIP reception, please contact Tammy Cullen at

"Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution" uses photos, first-person accounts of the show and interviews with fashion historians, along with archival materials from the event, to bring the legendary showdown between American and Parisian designers to life.

The documentary was director Deborah Riley Draper's first full-length film with her production company Coffee Bluff Pictures. The film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival, was featured during New York Fashion Week and Toronto Fashion Week, and has had limited engagements in New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta. For more information on the film, visit