Living Legends of Fashion History with Norma Jean Darden

Behind the scenes with Norma Dean Darden at her restaurant in New York (Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread) as she recalls her experience of being one of the 13 black models chosen to walk the Battle of Versailles historical fashion show. The Battle of Versailles was the turn of fashion economics!

Versailles was a historic palace located in France that was in need of restoration. Elanor Lambert (the creator of the Council of Fashion Designers of America – CFDA) was an American fashion icon and influencing socialite. She saw the opportunity in France’s need to restore the palace and America’s need to expose Europe to American’s talent in fashion. Hence,  the birth of the Battle of Versailles. Prior to this event American fashion came in second in comparison to French fashion.

The top 5 French designers were against the top 5 American designers. THE AMERICANS WON!

designers-of-the-battleNovember 28, 1973

Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too located in Harlem (366 W 110th St, New York, NY 10025)

The American model cast had something that France did not have…African American models. The American designers chose 30% of their models to be black. Yes, these women were talented and beautiful. However, there were budget constraints and they were selected because they were also affordable.

Ava Duvernay has signed a deal with HBO to do a film on this historic event…stay tuned!


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