They might not be household names, but 11 African-American models paved the way for Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, and Chanel Iman, long before the supermodels donned their first pair of Victoria’s Secret angel wings.
In 1973, five American designers took a huge risk when they chose to feature an all-black ensemble to showcase their designs in Paris, at the Grand Divertissement a Versailles fashion show. The bold move reaped huge rewards for American fashion on the world stage. And now the models– Pat Cleveland, Bethann Hardison, Billie Blair, Jennifer Brice, Alva Chinn, Norma Jean Darden, Charlene Dash, Barbara Jackson, China Machado, Ramona Saunders, and Amina Warsuma– will be featured in Versailles ’73: An American Revolution, a documentary that will put the beauty, class, and style of African-American in the spotlight, a far cry from the reality show stereotypes flooding television.
Producer Deborah Draper spoke with Huffington Post about the project:
“I wanted to do something different–something positive. I wanted to tell a story about black women that wasn’t like The [Real] Housewives Of Atlanta. The story is about more than just clothes. It’s about economics, race and politics as well. And the fashion aspect simply encompasses all of those things.”
The film will be completed in early March, just in time to hit Cannes Film Festival. African-American history at its finest.