Thursday, January 13, 2011
SUPER MODEL PAT CLEVELAND
To raise money for the restoration of Versailles, five American upstarts were invited to show their clothes alongside an equal number of what some journalists termed the “lions” of French fashion. The New York contenders were a decidedly motley lot: the gifted and imperious Halston; the industry stalwarts Oscar de la Renta and Bill Blass; Anne Klein, the sportswear pioneer; Stephen Burrows, a relative unknown then being touted as the future of American design. The French team, if that is the word for a collection of arch-rivals, comprised Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior (the label was designed at the time by Marc Bohan), Hubert de Givenchy, Emanuel Ungaro and Pierre Cardin.
What made our show different was that in Paris no one had ever seen a black model on a runway,” Oscar de la Renta said last week by telephone. And while there are those who might dispute the assertion (the designer Paco Rabanne, for one, employed black models in the 1960s), there is no arguing with contemporary reports that described the presence of black models as a major factor in the transformation of American fashion, which the French had derided as mass-produced goods, into a global force.
Looking back on the Versailles show, Ms. Blair said: “I realize that that was my time in history. I was this skinny black girl, taller than Jesus, with no boobs and no booty, but for the first time I was really proud of what I was and where I came from. I was recognized.”
While the Grand Divertissement was far from her first exposure to Paris, said Pat Cleveland — as it was for modeling neophytes like Alva Chinn and Charlene Dash — it was nevertheless a chance to “learn how to express myself and to be bigger than the whole world.”
This was taken from the New York Times January 12, 2011.
What this article did not report was that Yves Saint Laurent and Hubert de Givenchy both had stables of just black models. My favorite models in Paris at the time were of course Pat but also African goddess Mounia.