Review: “Battle At Versailles” Goes Deeper Than The Clothes

I recently watched the documentary film The Battle At Versailles on m2m.tv and, if you’re a fashion lover, you’ll want to watch it too. The film takes you back to 1973 in Versailles during a fashion show that would put American fashion on the map for the first time. French designers were pitted against American designers as part of a fundraiser to restore the royal palace that the very show was taking place in.

Battle At Versailles pulled me in from the beginning by the familiar voice of narrator, Stanley Tucci. His words are layered on top of the beautiful imagery of New York, Paris, and most importantly, the Palace of Versailles. They made a good move in picking him to narrate the film; after The Devil Wears Prada, he has the entire fashion community under his spell.

The movie moves at a steady pace, mixing interviews with models and designers that were there the day of the show. The interviews are candid-like and give life to the film. There was a severe lack of footage from the event itself. Instead, recreations of the models walking around a dark room serve as filler to help the viewer conjure up the scene in their heads.

Halston's Segment
The models shine in Halston’s segment. Photo via A.G.Nauta Couture

What makes the documentary a must see is the recount of the shift in fashions history after that night. The American designers, such as Stephen Burrows, Anne Klein and Oscar de la Renta all used black models in their runway performances at Versailles. They dominated the stage and stole the hearts of all the viewers that night in the grand theatre, helping usher in a new era for American fashion and models everywhere.

Pros:

  • Timely and relevant, in line with the topic today of black models in the industry.
  • Great interviews with Donna Karan, Stephen Burrows, China Machado, Bethann Hardison, Pat Cleveland, and many others that were actually there.
  • Easy to access via m2m.tv

Cons:

  • Abrupt ending left me wanting more, I tell you! MORE!
  • A lack of archive footage from the actual event gave the film a fabricated feeling

Don’t let the cons fool you, go to m2m.tv now and watch Battle At Versailles. If anything it’s a great film that encapsulates the rise of American fashion, the black model movement, and the feeling of the swinging 70’s.

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