Ava DuVernay to tackle fashion world with The Battle of Versailles

Let's not forget she's also doing A Wrinkle in Time and Intelligent Life

Do you hear that? It’s Ava DuVernay’s planner screaming for help. If you recall, we last reported that the Selma director had signed on to direct an adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time in addition to Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly’s sci-fi drama, Intelligent Life. Now, she’s added another big project to her collection, and this one’s pretty fashionable.

Based on Robin Givhan’s The Battle Of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled Into The Spotlight And Made History, the forthcoming film centers around the historic fashion show that took place on November 28, 1973 at the Palace of Versailles and pitted French and American designers against each other.

Here’s the official synopsis (via The Playlist):

On November 28, 1973, the world’s social elite gathered at the Palace of Versailles for an international fashion show. By the time the curtain came down on the evening’s spectacle, history had been made and the industry had been forever transformed. This is that story.

Conceived as a fund-raiser for the restoration of King Louis XIV’s palace, in the late fall of 1973, five top American designers faced off against five top French designers in an over-the-top runway extravaganza. An audience filled with celebrities and international jet-setters, including Princess Grace of Monaco, the Duchess of Windsor, Paloma Picasso, and Andy Warhol, were treated to an opulent performance featuring Liza Minnelli, Josephine Baker, and Rudolph Nureyev. What they saw would forever alter the history of fashion.

The Americans at the Battle of Versailles- Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Anne Klein, Halston, and Stephen Burrows – showed their work against the five French designers considered the best in the world – Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, and Marc Bohan of Christian Dior. Plagued by in-fighting, outsized egos, shoestring budgets, and innumerable technical difficulties, the American contingent had little chance of meeting the European’s exquisite and refined standards. But against all odds, the American energy and the domination by the fearless models (ten of whom, in a groundbreaking move, were African American) sent the audience reeling. By the end of the evening, the Americans had officially taken their place on the world’s stage, prompting a major shift in the way race, gender, sexuality, and economics would be treated in fashion for decades to come. As the curtain came down on The Battle of Versailles, American fashion was born; no longer would the world look to Europe to determine the stylistic trends of the day, from here forward, American sensibility and taste would command the world’s attention.

Not only will she direct, but DuVernay will also co-write the screenplay alongside Michael Starrbury. Given that Intelligent Life starts shooting this summer, it’s doubtful she’ll start this one anytime soon, but consider this blast from the past in your future.


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