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Versailles ’73 Black Supermodels

Introduced ©By Audrey J. Bernard

versaillesBold, Beautiful and Black models are reunited at the special luncheon at The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Amina Warsuma, Norma Jean Darden, Pat Cleveland, fashion designer Stephen Burrows, Charlene Dash, Alva Chinn, China Machado, Billie Blair, and Bethann Hardison. (Not pictured: Barbara Jackson, Jennifer Brice, Ramona Saunders ((deceased)) (Photo by Mike Coppola / Wireimage)


Back in 1973, The Palace of Versailles played host to a fundraiser orchestrated by American fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert and Palace of Versailles curator Gerald Van der Kemp to raise money to restore the aging structure to provide exposure for American fashion.The time was right to introduce and celebrate some of the hottest Black Models of the Day like the ones so featured. French Fashion Designers as well as Italian Designers have long featured minority models for their shows. Myself and several other Models, walked the Runways of Pitti Palace in Florence, Italy 1969 for Valentino’sBlack on Black’ Fashion Show, with creations by Silvano Malta. It was an ALL Black cast of Models with Everyone wearing Designs that were in the Color Black. It was Wonderful. These Shows showcased the Beauty of All People to the Industry as well as The Public. It paved the way for today’s successful Black Models and other Minorities as well who work constantly without having to worry about being typecast. People like Naomi Campbell, Iman, Tyra Banks, Alek Wek and so many more, have these Women, like the Versailles bunch, to thank for helping to make the job of Modeling a little easier and friendly. It’s the same way Josephine Baker made show business more receptive for many other minorities of the times. Even before the models mentioned above walked the Runways, French Designers like Christian Dior, Jean Patou, Ungaro, Pierre Cardin and a few more, hired Women of Color to walk in their Catwalk shows. Now, it is very much mainstream for fashion shows to be filled with  Models of different cultures. In the 70s, particularly, Henri Bendel featured Stephen Burrows clothes, exclusively. He remains innovative to Fashion as Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Carolina Herrera, Ann Klein, Tracy Reese, Nicole Miller, Donna Karan, Bill Blass, Prabal Gurung are today. All of these fashion designers represent American Fashion, worldwide. French fashion designers somewhat rely of America for setting the trends. France Fashion Catwalk shows in Paris, many times, reflect many American Signature styles. New York Fashion Week is an example of Haute Couture and American Sportswear for the masses. Like Europe’s Pret-a-porter, American clothes is marketed with the intention of clothes being affordable. Fashion events like Fashion Week New York City, FW London, FW Paris, FW Milan and others is a prime example of the American Fashion industry‘s impact on the rest of the World. – – Find out more

Stephen Burrows – ABC news from NewsMark PR on Vimeo.