why Ava DuVernay turned down Black Panther

Ava DuVernay‘s to-do list just keeps getting longer — not that we’re complaining. Just a few weeks after we heard she’d signed on to direct Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, DuVernay has been set for The Battle of Versailles, an HBO movie about a 1973 fashion show that pit French designers against American ones, and wound up changing the industry forever. 

Deadline reported on the Ava DuVernay Battle of Versailles project. DuVernay is scripting the film with Michael Starrbury (The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete) and will direct. The project is based on the 2015 book The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled Into the Spotlight and Made History by Pulitzer-winning fashion critic and reporter Robin Givhan, who will serve as a consultant.

The Battle of Versailles was a benefit event organized to raise money for the Palace of Versailles in France. On November 28, 1973, five French designers (Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, and Marc Bohan of Christian Dior) and five American designers (Oscar de la Renta, Stephen Burrows, Halston, Bill Blass, and Anne Klein, who brought her assistant Donna Karan) showed their work to a star-studded audience that included Princess Grace and Andy Warhol.

Going into the evening, the French were the favorites to win. French fashion was still considered the finest in the world, with these particular designers among the best of the best, and the team put on a lavish extravaganza to wow the crowd. The Americans were less famous and working with a smaller budget, but their energetic presentation impressed the crowd and positioned the U.S. as the new dominant force in fashion. Of particular note were the American’s roster of models, who stole the show. About 10 of the 30 were black, an unprecedented ratio at the time.

DuVernay seems like a fantastic pick for The Battle of Versailles. So much of Selma‘s power came from her ability to make a historical moment feel immediate and vital, when too many historical dramas struggle to transcend that “dusty textbook” feeling. The fact that the Battle of Versailles hasn’t been done to death in the movies is also a plus. The event was previously chronicled in Deborah Riley Draper’s feature documentary Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution.

The only sad part of this news is that we don’t know as of yet when DuVernay will shoot the film, or when HBO plans to air it. Besides A Wrinkle in Time, she’s also circling Intelligent Life, a sci-fi thriller co-written by Jurassic World‘s Colin Trevorrow. She’s also currently working on her upcoming OWN drama Queen Sugar. As for Starrbury, he’s currently rewriting Disney’s Ed Terrestrial and co-created the upcoming Comedy Central series Legends of Chamberlain Heights.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: