Betty O’Neill-Roderick

Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution was part of the celebration of Black History Month at Kent State University on Saturday evening.

Atlanta filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper produced, directed and wrote the documentary film, which chronicles the birth of diversity in the fashion world. The “Battle of Versailles” brought together five French designers and five American designers, and was the first time multiple African-American models walked the runway.

“I was fascinated with the story, and researched this milestone in fashion history,” said Draper at a reception preceding the screening of the film. She was invited to visit the Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion at Kent State by Dr. Tameka Ellington, assistant professor of fashion design and merchandising.

Dr. T, as she is known by her students, was delighted to welcome Draper and Pat Cleveland and Billie Blair, two of the models from the 1973 fashion show, to the school.

“It was a wonderful adventure to be part of an incredible moment in fashion history,” Cleveland said.

Tamara Cullen chaired the fundraiser for the Modesta Minority Fashion Group. Janae Green, Lexi Fairley and Chelsea Sims greeted guests, who enjoyed a buffet served by Scott Imhoff and his staff from the KSU Student Center. Bobi Jo Homer and Jessie Pollett served wine to guests, including Chuck and Betsy Mangin, Ken Robinson, Della Marshall, Judy Parmer, Alfreda Brown and Sonya Wisdom.

Fashion students Aanchal Bakshi and Jonna Qui were excited to meet the models from the show and hear about their adventures. “Fashion, like all of the arts, brings people together,” Blair told the students.

Two charming young men, 9-year-old Theo Lovinski and his friend, Owen Kirby, said they came to see the film because of their interest in documentary films and history. They were accompanied by Theo’s mother, Noel Lovinski. Also enjoying the event were Angie Stevens and her daughter, Dominique, Dawn deFoor, Harriet McLeod and Hilary Stone.

Draper said Versailles ’73 is also available on DVD. For information, visit