Ava DuVernay to Direct ‘The Battle of Versailles’ True-Life Fashion Drama for HBO
Ava DuVernay took a quick break from directing feature films after the release of her Oscar-nominated Selma, and while she’s been hard at work on various other projects (like her forthcoming series Queen Sugar), this past month has yielded great news for fans of the director eager to see her return to film. In addition to directing Disney’s upcoming adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, DuVernay has signed on to helm a new film for HBO — one that will take her into the dramatic world of high fashion.
The Battle of Versailles is far from your typical fashion-centric narrative, however. Per Deadline, DuVernay will direct the film from a script she’s currently co-writing with Michael Starrbury (The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete), based on Robin Givhan’s non-fiction book The Battle Of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled Into The Spotlight And Made History.
Givhan’s book centers on the famous 1973 fashion show held at the Palace of Versailles in France. Billed as a fundraiser to restore the gorgeous palace, five iconic French designers (Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, and Marc Bohan of Christian Dior) battled five little-known American designers (Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Anne Klein, Halston, and Stephen Burrows) in a high-fashion showdown for an audience comprised of society’s elite.
Although the American designers were still somewhat green, they ultimately — spoiler — won the show, owing in part to their inclusion of 10 African-American models among their lineup of 30. It was a fairly radical move at a time when people of color did not typically appear on high-fashion runways.
In addition to directing and co-writing, DuVernay will executive produce The Battle of Versailles for HBO Films alongside Karen Glass and Angela Mancuso, while no release date has been set. DuVernay is also set to direct A Wrinkle in Time for Disney, based on a script by Frozen scribe and co-director Jennifer Lee.