As a woman of color, director Ava DuVernay is a rare bird in Hollywood, where women and minorities are both chronically underrepresented. That said, lots of folks have taken an active interest in the trajectory of her career.
Last month, we found out that the Selma director and Black Panther almost-director would be taking on the A Wrinkle in Time adaptation for Disney, and yesterday brought more news for DuVernay watchers.
According to Deadline, DuVernay has been tapped by HBO to direct and executive produce its upcoming film The Battle of Versailles, which tells the story of an epic fashion face-off in France that brought recognition for both American designers and black models.
The film is an adaptation of Robin Givhan’s 2015 book about the 1973 Palace of Versailles fashion show which saw five top French designers (Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Marc Bohan, and Emanuel Ungaro) pitted against five up-and-coming Americans (Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Halston, Stephen Burrow, and Anne Klein with her assistant Donna Karan in tow). Despite being massive underdogs, the Americans trumped the French team’s over-the-top presentation with a simple, soul-music backed show that featured 30 models, 10 of whom were African American. At the time, the United States was less than 10 years removed from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the show was a big step toward equality in the industry and in the country generally.
HBO has a history of producing socially conscious films and shows, while DuVernay has a history of handling the issue of race powerfully and tactfully. As a result, this feels like a pretty natural fit.
DuVernay will also co-write the project with Michael Starrbury (The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete). We don’t yet know when production will begin or when the film will debut, but we’ll keep you updated as information becomes available.