While the project may sound like a war epic, the film is actually based on the 2015 book “The Battle Of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled Into The Spotlight And Made History.” The story follows the November 28, 1973 fashion show that took place at the Palace of Versailles. Acting as a fundraiser for the restoration of King Louis XIV’s palace, it pitted the top five French designers (Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, and Marc Bohan of Christian Dior) against five then-unknown American designers (Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Halston, Stephen Burrows and Anne Klein, with then-assistant Donna Karan).
As Deadline writes, “The French designers kicked off the evening with a big-budget, two-hour extravaganza featuring elaborate set pieces and a live orchestra playing classical music. The Americans followed with a 35-minute show to a pre-recorded Al Green soundtrack, backed by a simple line drawing of the Eiffel Towel. Against all odds, the Americans emerged victorious, hailed for the energy of their presentation, with a lot of the credit going to the fearless 30 models, 10 of whom, in a groundbreaking move, were African American.”
DuVernay has been extremely busy since her “Selma” success. She is writing, directing and executive producing the upcoming OWN drama series “Queen Sugar,” which she co-created with Oprah Winfrey. And this HBO announcement comes not long after it was revealed that DuVernay would be directing the Disney adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” a 1953 sci-fi novel that centers on a young girl’s adventures in space and time in search of her scientist father.
Though she decided to work with a huge studio on that project, DuVernay recently turned down Marvel’s offer to direct “Black Panther.” As we previously reported, she said that she was concerned that the studio’s “certain way of doing things,” as she put it, might ultimately restrict her creative control on the picture. As DuVernay explained in discussion with Women and Hollywood founder and editor Melissa Silverstein, “If there’s too much compromise, it really wasn’t going to be an Ava DuVernay film.”