About This Project



TAA Public Relations presented a special book signing and reception in honor of Pulitzer Prize award winning fashion critic Robin Givhan at the newly renovated French Resident with His Excellency, Ambassador Gerard Araud, French Ambassador to the United States. Special guest for the evening, Andre Leon Talley is one of the most powerful figures in the fashion industry today. As the former American Editor-­‐at-­‐Large for Vogue magazine and now Contributing Editor, Talley has been a front-­‐row regular at fashion shows in New York, Paris, London and Milan for more than 25 years.


Robin and Andre delighted guests including Diane Rehm, Kathleen Matthews, White House Social Secretary Jeremy Bernard and many others with a spirited conversation about the night when American fashion took center stage in France.


In her debut book titled The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History, Robin delivers a delightful, encyclopedic exploration of the evening of Nov 28, 1973, when Parisian haute couture faced off against the upstart American designers. The differences between the Paris world of fashion, with its strict rules of handmade quality and personal fit, and that of the ready-­‐to-­‐wear American, were hard and fast. In France, the term “haute couture” is a legally protected designation, and the established houses dictate every aspect of fashion. In America, it was the department stores determining the latest looks. Enter Eleanor Lambert (1903-­‐2003), whose work establishing American fashion changed an entire industry. She was public relations representative for all the best designers, and she established New York’s first fashion week, in 1943, as well as the Council of Fashion Designers of America. It was at a lunch with the curator of Versailles that the idea of a fashion fundraiser was born. Though it was never meant to be a competition, five American and five French designers came together that November evening, and the American style of design and show was established. The French—showing Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro and Dior’s Marc Bohan—followed their established style of exhibition. The wealthy onlookers took notice when the American sportswear designer Anne Klein (whom nobody wanted there) showed off her models with snappy movements and attitudes. Excitement built with the black models, who really made the show. African-­‐ themed outfits by Stephen Burrows were free, whirling and vital. Halston, Bill Blass and Oscar de la Renta also showed well, and the world of fashion never looked back. These days, writes the author, fashion “feeds a constant cultural conversation with intermittent spikes of media saturation and personal punditry.”


The evening will be full of fun and surprises from American and French designers thanks to our the generous sponsorship from Mazza Gallerie, T.H.E. Artist Agency and Moet Hennessy, USA.