No tags :(

Share it

1970sshirtblouse copy

These groovy 1970s-inspired sunglasses were gifted to me by SunglassWarehouse.com. Shades of John Lennon, don’t you think? Or is this more like Maxine, the crabby Hallmark card lady on me?

They seemed a perfect nod to this early 1970s vintage blouse, not to mention a new documentary that will show at 6 p.m., Thursday, September 12 at the Indianapolis Museum of ArtVersailles 73: American Runway Revolution.

The film is a recap of a definitive moment in fashion—1973—when French and American fashion designers faced off in a benefit fashion show organized to fund a major renovation of the Palace of Versailles. That night, American fashion stood on its own two feet for the first time and American sportswear emerged as the equal to European haute couture. It was heralded as the birth of ready-to-wear fashion and the death of haute couture. American designers mixed chic pieces, triggering a worldwide revolution of dressing more casually.

Perhaps its biggest mark on history was the way Versailles 73 changed how black models were viewed by the fashion industry. With very few props, poor lighting and little time for practice, a contingent of black, American models were a tour de force, representing a freshness and energy that had never been seen on runways. Shaking it with all they had, these black models were described as “magicians of movement”—a stark contrast to the stiff, restrained elegance of their European sidekicks.

The happy, dancing quality they brought to the stage that night won the hearts of the largely French audience—and changed everything about modeling. Soon afterwards, Givenchy and other French designers changed runway presentations, adding more lively walks and music.

“The walk was one of affirmation, and that’s something that you own from your soul,” says Mikki Taylor, a former model, editor-at-large of Essence and member of the Versailles 73 cast. “It has nothing to do with the clothing and everything to do with what you bring to it.”

Unfortunately there’s a sad, ironic postscript to this celebratory film when you fast-forward. Forty years after this legendary event, race is still a huge problem in fashion. According to Fashion’s Blind Spot, a story published by the New York Times just last week, only six percent of the models in New York’s most recent Fashion Week were black.

Iman, a black supermodel, laments that things have actually gone backward where race and fashion are concerned. She has called for boycotts of blatant offenders like Dior, where some observers say the absence of black runway models is a deliberate choice.

I’m not exposed to much runway fashion in Indianapolis, so it’s difficult to judge this. Here, I know a handful of black designers. All of them conscientiously showcase local black models of all ages, but what about local white designers? What have you noticed? Are models of color fairly represented in the fashion you observe today? For a gander at some REALLY accomplished stylists, gather round at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday!

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.