The Queen Who Played With Fashion – Marie Antoinette
Palace of Versailles was the sumptuous home of the famous french queen, Marie Antoinette. An austrian princess, who was married of to king Louis XVI at the age of 14 and became the queen of France four years later, is best remembered from her parties, fashion sense and sky high hairdos. She surely was fabulous but in the end the her lifestyle cost her the crown and her head. Yet still, Marie Antoinette is one of the most influential fashion icons in history and will be forever recogniced from her luxurious, sublime style.
Marie Antoinette was really just like any ordinary princess at the time: rich, spoiled and privileged. She didn't care about reading, writing or any other skils a future queen would have needed. On the contrary, she loved dancing, parties, music and dresses. Like any other teenager she just wanted to have fun, live and not to worry about the whole nation's well being. In fact, she didn't know any other world than what her royal friends and family lived in; silk dresses with lace drims, creamy strawberry cake and huge balls with mountains of shampange. How can you not become a little bit over the top when you were raised in a world like that? And then in the most vulnerable state of growing up you move to a place as fashionable and glorious as Versailles. In between palaces Marie Antoinette surely didn't got to see the real world but at least she learned how to have a party and to really dress to impress.
Here's how Marie Antoinette's vision of style changed fashion forever:
Pastels, Flolars And Extravagance
After dramatic and dark colors of the baroque period the18th century rococo was the ultimate opposite. Now pastel colors, nature and flowers were presented everywhere, even in funiture. Heavily ornamented fabrics, asymmetrical designs and all around ligher and more comfortable dresses appeared. However, corsest were still a thing and in court lavish silk dresses with powdered hair was the only suitable attire. Shortly, the more detailed your outfit, the more it cost which scearmed weath and power to others.
Especially, in the french court appearance was essential, most of all for the future queen. So, early on Marie Antoinette had to learn not only how to dress for her new position but also to mirror the health of the monarchy and her rightful claim to the crown through her looks. Thanks to her expensive taste, celebrity status and difficulties in marriage bed Marie Antoinette made fashion her weapon and started introducing her extravagant style in Versailles and Paris which soon caught everyones eyes, making her the trend setter of the 18th century.
Boho And Country Style
You can say that there's two sides to Marie Antoinette's style: The extremely luxurious seen in Versailles and the comfortable country romance, (which was still very expensive), when in The Petit Trianon. Both sides of Marie Antoinette's style had a huge impact in fashion but in some sense the country romance side was even more shocking at the time and gathered a lot of attention as well as opinions.
The petit trianon was the getaway from judgment and gossips of Versailles for Marie Antoinette. It was a place of silence and nature where she could relax and forget the theater of being a queen of France. The grounds and surroundings of the petit trianon were build to mimic an idyllic idea of a peasant village. So, the whole estate was artificial and made to fit in the queen's fantasy of living more simpler and slower life in the countryside.
As you can guess, of course this new side of life needed a new wardrobe to match with the queen's shepherdes fantasies. And so the boho style was born. Ruffled dresses made out of muslin, which is a light cotton fabric, appeared in Marie Antoinette's warbrobe together with simpler straw hats and baskets for flowers. One would say this was very fitting with the 1700s rococo state of mind and the glorification of nature in emroidery, art and furniture. But sadly for Marie Antoinette muslin clothes were considered underwear at the time and for this wearing a muslin dress was, if not scandalous, at least a rule breaking move from a queen. However, Marie Antoinette's muslin dresses were still widely copied and desired amongst the nobel ladies for their liberating lightness and space to move in.
Marie Antoinette was the embodiment of rococo fashion and beyond, even so much that she and her minister of fashion, Rose Bertin, almoust accidently created a whole new movement in dressmaking. It was for the dream land of Versailles and the queen's charm to pull of anything, haute couture gave a platform for all fashion fantasies to finally come true for those, who had the courage and the money to do it.
"It is true that I am rather taken up with dress; but as to feathers, everyone wears them, and it would seem extraordinary if I did not."
– Marie Antoinette
Haute couture means high-end fashion that is made by hand from the finest of fabrics and custom-fitted for client's measurements. The creations are unique, very expensive and often so breathtaking that haute couture is considered to be more of an art form rather than just dressmaking. So, it is only fitting that Marie Antoinette, with her over the top style and love of fashion, was the one to take it to the max, creating another new page to the book of fashion.
The bigger the hair, The bigger the hat
Surely, it was because of the haute couture state of mind, also accessories were multiplied in size and grandeur. Especially, hats and massive hairdos were Marie Antoinette's favorite thing to shock the court in Versailles. Her three feet tall wigs had birds, little ships, feathers and flowers sewn into them and sometimes if the hair was simpler the hat certainly wasn't. Feathers, pearls and ribbons created a sublime hat which decorated the hair perfectly as well as completed the matching outfit making the wearer look absolutely court ready.
Even during the time in the petit trianon hats and hair were an important part of the countryside fantasy which also created shade from the sun when sitting in the garden. So, everything from court to freetime, Marie Antoinette's outfits were always thought out with every detail in mind.
Thank you so much for reading!