M2M, the new fashion channel from WME/IMG, and Maybelline debuted a new documentary, Battle At Versailles, at New York City’s Paris Theatre last night. The film tells the legendary story of the evening when Eleanor Lambert orchestrated a walk-off between American and French designers in 1973 at the Palace of Versailles. On team America were Oscar de la Renta, Stephen Burrows, Halston, Bill Blass, and Anne Klein, versus French designers Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, Christian Dior, and Hubert de Givenchy. Burrows, who attended the premiere, is the only designer from the famous battle still alive today.
Burrows told The Daily that he never thought he would see the event make it to the big screen and that it brought him to tears. “What I miss about that era is the creativity,” said Burrows. “I don’t think we’ll ever see that again.” It’s not the first time someone has made a documentary about the pivotal fashion moment—Deborah Draper Riley made one in 2013, and both certainly bring to life the wonderfully nostalgic behind-the-scenes moments from those who lived it—but director Fritz Mitchell’s version shows never-before-seen images and footage that includes hilarious and touching anecdotes from the models, the assistants (including James LaForce and Donna Karan), and Burrows. Alva Chinn laughed while recalling the moment she had to wear a Halston strapless gown that revealed one breast (not unlike the Jacquemus piece from this season), saying, “I thought it was hysterical because my breast was like a little fried egg!” Plus, quite a few people shared their memories of Halston’s legendary temper, which he eventually overcame in order to stage his portion of the show.
Meanwhile, Pat Cleveland recalled Hubert de Givenchy telling her she was magnificent after twirling down the runway like a moth in Burrows’ closing look, and Burrows remembered Saint Laurent praising his collection. It was the moment that American designers burst onto the fashion scene to say, “We’re here and need to be reckoned with,” as the film states. It’s a must-see; you can check it out when it debuts on M2M, Sunday, March 6, available on Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, Amazon Fire, and via M2M on IOS. Enjoy!