The Battle of Versailles

By Luigi Tadini

Stills of Stephen Burrows and his clothes from Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution.

In 1973, what started out as a benefit to restore the decaying palace of Versailles turned into a full-fledged designer face-off that would forever change the history of fashion. In one corner, representing France, was the crème of couture: Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin and Emanuel Ungaro. In the other, representing the United States, were Bill Blass, Stephen Burrows, Anne Klein, Oscar de la Renta and Halston armed with an arsenal of then relatively unknown black models. That very moment which set the château ablaze is the subject of Deborah Riley Draper's Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution. The delicious documentary -- available this month on iTunes -- features first-hand accounts from models like Barbara Summers, Pat Cleveland, China Machado and Bethann Hardison, who strutted, twirled and vogued the international fashion scene into the next century and put American design on the map.

Stephen Burrows' clothes at the MET tribute to the models of Versailles, photograph by Billy Farrell/

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