The Battle of Versailles: Catwalk clash of American and French fashion
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In 1973, a fashion show was held in France which became known as the Battle of Versailles, a duel between designs from modern America and the capital of couture, Paris. Five American designers, including Oscar de la Renta and Halston, were invited to show their work alongside five of France’s biggest names, including Yves Saint Laurent and Hubert de Givenchy. The aim was to raise money to help restore Versailles, a 17th Century palace built by King Louis XIV, but the media billed it as a competition between the two countries. By the end, the Americans were declared the winners. The show also highlighted their industry’s racial diversity on an international stage, with 10 women of colour modelling work by US designers. Bethann Hardison, one of the models, talks to Jane Wilkinson about the lasting impact of the astonishing show. (Photo: Bethann Hardison at Versailles in 1973. Credit: Jean-Luce Hure/Bridgeman Images)
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