Fashion / Style

50th Anniversary of Fashion’s Unforgettable Battle of Versailles Celebrated In Two-Tiered Houston Night

Making Fashion History Come Back to Life

BY // 12.05.23
photography Torry Sledge

What: A celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Battle of Versailles

Background: In 1973, American and French designers “competed” in a legendary fashion show dubbed The Battle of Versailles, which was held in the palace opera house that was inaugurated in 1770 for celebration of the dauphin’s marriage to Marie Antoinette.

6. DJ Warner, Taylor Mills, Rick Hickman (Photo by Torry Sledge)
D.J. Warner, Taylor Mills, Rick Hickman at the 50th anniversary celebration of the fashion Battle of Versailles. (Photo by Torry Sledge)

Representing the French Republic were Marc Bohan for Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin, Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and Emanuel Ungaro. The United States designers included Bill Blass, Stephen Burrows, Oscar de la Renta, Halston and Anne Klein. Each of the 10 designers made runway presentations of eight looks before an audience of international luminaries.

Such was the success of the American fashions that the event is said to have marked the ascendency of ready-to-wear over couture and recognition of American designers as well as a nod to diversity in the industry as the eight U.S. models were Black, including Pat Cleveland.

Where: Avant-Art Gallery on Colquitt and neighboring Se7en restaurant on Kirby.

PC Moment: Cleveland was headliner at the two-tiered evening that featured screening of the animated, award winning short documentary titled The Girl From 7th Avenue — Pat Cleveland & the Runway Revolution. The film presented an historical account of Cleveland’s career in the star’s own words. She even sings on the video. It is illustrated with more than 2,000 hand-painted watercolors by film producer Antonio Contreras.

While attendees dined, Cleveland and Contreras conducted a brief Q&A session.

A second highlight was a retrospective fashion show with looks by renowned designer Stephen Burrows, the first Black designer to showcase in Paris; Project Runway star Chasity Sereal; famed designer Le Thanh Hoa, and Houstonian  Nicholas Phat Nguyen of Mysterious by NPN. The fashion presentation was co-directed by Kim Moh and Rose Walker.

4. Pat Cleveland _Vogues_ with models (Photo by Torry Sledge)
The party scene at Se7en at the 50th anniversary celebration of the fashion Battle of Versailles. (Photo by Torry Sledge)

The evening was filmed for a documentary celebrating the history of fashion.

Among notables in the throng for this Houston night were Miss Universe 2022 R’Bonney Gabriel, D.J. Warner of Keplinger Wines, Tim Thorn, Marc Harvey and Thao Nguyen.

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