BATTLE OF VERSAILLES
As Paris Fashion Week gets underway, one book looks back at where it all began.
Journalist Robin Givhan has covered fashion for The Washington Post and New York Magazine for decades now; she’s even won a Pulitzer Prize for her stories. She landed in fashion somewhat by accident, as a rookie reporter assigned to cover a runway show, she found herself drawn to the big personalities that make up the industry.
In her first book, The Battle of Versailles, she tackles the publicity stunt that forever transformed the fashion industry: a fashion show at Versailles Palace in which French designers competed against American ones. It was in 1973, and it kicked off what was then a new and untested idea, Paris Fashion Week. The show helped revive the then ailing fashion industry, and in particular was seen as a major step forward for American fashion designers and models, and in fact the sportswear industry as a whole.
“Fashion ceased being discrete and precise,” Givhan writes. “Fashion became a form of tribal communication. It allows myriad groups to speak to each other, at each other, and over each other through wardrobe decisions that are at once simple and provocative.”