Josephine Baker : 1973 Versailles

On November 28th 1973 Josephine Baker sang at a very special event.

A fashion show was organised to raise funds to restore King Louis XIV’s palace of  Versaille in France.

Created by Eleanor Lambert and Versailles curator Gerald Van der Kemp, the show pitted French designers (Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, Christian Dior, and Hubert de Givenchy) against American designers (Oscar de la Renta, Stephen Burrows, Halston, Bill Blass, and Anne Klein, who brought along her assistant, Donna Karan).

The guest list to this unique show was an array of the social elite such as Princess Grace, Marie-Hélène de Rothschild, Jacqueline de Ribes, Gloria Guinness, Andy Warhol and Liza Minnelli, the event became legendary.

Each designer was to submit eight designs for consideration. The French designers viewed their competition as mere sportswear designers. The American designers used ten African American models, an unprecedented number at the time. The American designers and their models stole the show.

By the end of the evening, the Americans had officially taken their place on the world’s stage, prompting a major shift in the way race, gender, sexuality, and economics would be treated in fashion for decades to come.

After the Show Josephine asked to meet model Billie Blair.  Those present recall this tender moment ” Josephine Baker reached out and touched her face. She said, ‘I came to Paris in 1922. And you came to Paris tonight.’ ”

We would like to welcome you to visit the former home of Josephine Baker in Marrakech.

Riad Star is a celebration of the life of this amazing, kind and talented woman. A collection of Josephine Memorabilia is available to view. Please contact us to learn more.