Many of us live our lives in fashion, often forgetting about the people that paved the way. Earlier this week The Huffington Post honored the Versailles models of 1973 at their 2011 Huffington Post Game Changers Awards ceremony at the Skylight Soho in New York City. The Versailles Models–Pat Cleveland, Bethann Hardison, Billie Blair, Jennifer Brice, Alva Chinn, Norma Jean Darden, Charlene Dash, Barbara Jackson, China Machado, Ramona Saunders, and Amina Warsuma–took part in the legendary Grand Divertissement à Versailles fashion show held in 1973 at the Palace of Versailles. The show was organized to raise money for the restoration of the palace and the ladies were the only African American models used in the show, ultimately paving the way for the icons we know and love such as Iman, Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks.
Now, on the heels of this celebration it has been announced that Robin Givhan, a history maker in her own right, she is the first (and only) fashion writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, in 2006, will write a book about the women and that extraordinary event titled One Night at Versailles: The Fashion Showdown that Changed Everything. According to Penguin Press the book will be:
“An in-depth look at how the ‘Grand Divertissement a Versailles’ set a diverse group of American designers against the lions of French fashion in a seismic cultural event and turning point in the history of American fashion.”
So next time you fawn over Naomi strutting her stuff on the runway, Chanel Iman donning the latest Victoria’s Secret set or Iman gracing a red carpet, remember the Versailles models of 1973 and say a quiet thank you.