THE BATTLE OF VERSAILLES

The Couturiers of the Battle of Versailles 

On November 28, 1973, the international fashion elite gathered in the Royal Opera of the Château de Versailles for a fashion show followed by a cocktail party. Initially created to raise funds for the restoration of the residence of the French kings, the event is about to mark a turning point in the history of fashion. Fashion chroniclers, journalists, socialites, aging aristocracy, and members of the jet set are preparing to witness the clash between five stars of French couture and five young American designers.

The French couturiers present their collection in the purest tradition of haute couture fashion shows. The performance remains unchanged since the late 19th century: a lavishly decorated venue, a central aisle surrounded by chairs, and models strutting to the sound of classical music. The Americans, on the other hand, offer a true celebration. For 30 minutes, the five designers showcase their new silhouettes in an ultra-dynamic runway show. Models dance, garments come to life, and each creator delivers a different version of American fashion, inspired by the 1920s, Africa, or even the 1970s.

This divide also becomes apparent in the fashion style and attitude of the designers:

On the French side:

Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Emmanuel Ungaro, Pierre Cardin, and Marc Bohan, who was the stylist for Dior at the time. The French couturiers are the headliners of the event. Hubert de Givenchy and Marc Bohan adopt a conservative style with heavy gray flannel suits. Only Yves Saint Laurent stands out with a black mohair Caraceni double-breasted suit.

On the American side:

Bill Glass, Halston, Oscar de la Renta, Anne Klein, Stephen Burrows. The American designers stand out with their flamboyant fashion style. Halston arrives at the airport in his signature attire: black turtleneck and flared trousers, ivory tropical wool jacket. Later, the designer wears a three-button peak lapel suit. Bill Glass, on the other hand, wears a windowpane tweed suit with cavalry pocket details.

In the evening during the fashion show, the differences fade away: both French and American couturiers appear in tuxedos in the Opera. Andy Warhol, who came to support his friend Halston, wears a mismatched tuxedo with Levi’s 501 jeans for the occasion.

Before the Battle of Versailles, France dictated the changes in fashion. On the evening of November 28, 1973, the American designers assert themselves through their extravagance and modernity, turning fashion into a true industry. They have transitioned from being mere dressmakers to creative geniuses.

Halston._Paris._1973.__1_85

Halston.Paris.1973.

SAINT LAURENT, Yves. 28 novembre 1973. Versailles

SAINT LAURENT, Yves. 28 novembre 1973. Versailles

Marc-Bohan_-Philipe-Guibourgé_-Oscar-de-la-Renta_-Halston-et-Bill-Blass.-1973-

Marc Bohan, Philipe, Guibourgé, Oscar-de-la-Renta, Halston, Joe Eula et Bill Blass.1973

Pat-Cleveland-et-Oscar-de-la-Renta.-Versailles.-1973.-

Pat Cleveland et Oscar de la Renta.Versailles.1973.

Stephen Burrows. Versailles. 1973

Stephen Burrows. Versailles. 1973

Marc-Bohan-lors-de-la-Bataille-de-Versailles-1973

Marc Bohan lors de la Bataille de Versailles. 1973

Emanuel_Ungaro_et_Marie-Helene_de_Rothschild._Versailles._1973.__90

Emanuel Ungaro et Marie Helene de Rothschild. Versailles. 1973

Andy_Warhol_Yves_Saint_Laurent_Mary_Russell_et_Pierre_Berge._Opera_royal_de_Versaille._1973.__1_90

Andy Warhol Yves Saint Laurent Mary Russell et Pierre Berge. Opera royal de Versaille. 1973

Halston_-Oscar-de-la-Renta_-Bill-Blass-y-el-ilustrador-Joe-Eula-

Halston, Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass y el ilustrador Joe Eula

Halston-Loulou-la-Falaise.-Versailles.-1973.-

Halston Loulou la Falaise. Versailles. 1973.

Théatre Royal, Chateau de Versailles. 1973.

Théatre Royal, Chateau de Versailles. 1973.

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