STRIKING A POSE—Deborah Riley Draper with Pat Cleveland (Photos by Debbie Norrell)


On March 3, the crowd that attended “Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution” very likely did not know what they were in for. What they did know is that their presence was requested by Demeatria Boccella, founder and artistic director of FashionAFRICANA for the Pittsburgh Premiere Screening of “Versailles’73.”
Guests knew that they would be in the presence of fashion royalty, super model Pat Cleveland; Nikki Taylor, Editor at Large of the iconic Essence Magazine; and Deborah Riley Draper director of “Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution.”  The film follows the iconic fashion effrontery at the Chateau de Versailles in 1973 between five American designers and five French designers.  The event began as a fundraiser to raise money to restore the Palace of Versailles but became a fierce competition. America with great clothes and a color barrier-breaking collective of Black models who sashayed down the runway, won over the crowd and secured American fashion’s place on the world stage.
After the screening the audience was invited to ask questions of Cleveland, Taylor and Draper. Draper said when she was invited to Pittsburgh; she thought Steelers and steel town, but not fashion. She says she was pleasantly surprised at the fashionable side of Pittsburgh.  
The crowd loved the film and was excited to have witnessed this important piece of Black history and American history.  Guests enjoyed a dessert reception catered by Savoy restaurant and thanked FashionAFRICANA for another unique evening.
Spotted: Janis Burley Wilson; Kiya Tomlin; Jarvis Powers; Carol Neyland; Yvette Flaxman; Miyoshi Anderson; Jovon Higgins-Mitchell with Nate; Orlana Darkins Drewery; Darnell McLaurin, co-founder FashionAFRICANA; and Sabrina Clark.

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