On Monday, the Metropolitan Museum held a luncheon to honor the models who walked in the Grand Divertissement à Versailles, a notoriously controversial fashion show held in France in 1973. The show was essentially a face-off between American and French fashion designers, complete with performers — Liza Minnelli, Josephine Baker — and is credited with putting American fashion on the world stage. Moreover, the Americans’ use of ten models of color to show the clothes was a sensation at the time.
The luncheon was co-hosted by Oscar de la Renta and Stephen Burrows (who were both part of the 1973 show) and attended by many of the models who walked the Versailles runway, including Norma Jean Darden, Pat Cleveland, and China Machado. Machado recalled being “stunned” when she was first asked to be in it. “I don’t know whether I thought it was a great idea or not. [But then] I thought, why not? The French are so pompous, and the Americans are so great, let’s do it and show them! And we did.” What did she wear? “A topless dress. Green chiffon. And a peacock feather fan.”