She had an unerring and exquisite taste and the beautiful objects owned and worn by Marie Antoinette still exert a tremendous fascination today. Sadly the ravages of the Revolution resulted in the destruction of Marie Antoinette’s fabulous wardrobe and much of her belongings were either looted, sold abroad or lost forever but enough remains for us to have a very good idea of the luxury that she liked to surround herself with.
Marie Antoinette would change three times in the course of the day: first of all there would be a formal silk or velvet gown to be worn to Mass, followed by a lighter, more informal muslin, lawn or cotton dress for the rest of the day and then finally a gorgeously elaborate evening dress to be worn to dinner, concerts or balls.
The Queen’s preference was for light fabrics and pale, pastel colours such as a soft lemon yellow, dove grey, pale green and lilac. Again, Madame Bertin was inventive, taking an almost poetic pleasure in thinking up names for different shades – ‘Incendie de l’Opera’ was a vivid orange red; ‘Cheveux de la Reine’ a soft gold inspired by her hair colour and, most poetically, ‘Caca Dauphin’ was a pale brown.
Marie Antoinette had survived a childhood bout of small pox relatively unscathed bar a few scars but it is likely that she still enjoyed the fashion for black velvet beauty patches – perhaps applying one to the corner of her mouth, which signaled her wish to be kissed or one on the forehead, which suggested that the wearer was haughty.
Unusual for the time, Marie Antoinette insisted on frequent baths and her bathroom at Versailles still exists with simple dove grey walls and a sloping tiled floor so that the water could drain away. Her perfumer Fargeon invented for her the bain de modestie, which involved donning a flannel chemise so that her body would not be exposed even to the gaze of her ladies in waiting. Once in the bath she would sit on a large pad filled with sweet almonds, pine nuts, linseed, marshmallow root and lily bulb while she washed herself with muslin pads filled with gentle and exfoliating bran and soaps scented with herbs, amber and bergamot.
It’s sad now to walk around Versailles and see these delicately hued rooms, now crowded with tourists, where once the air was filled with the scents of the most beautiful garden imaginable.
Now ... go make something beautiful!
(¸.•´♥ Tristan ♥
Special thanks for information and some photos from "Madame Guillotine."
Photos of Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette from Sophia Coppola's 2006 film "Marie Antoinette"
My birthday present from me to you ... a collage of images of the 'toinette. Click to enlarge and save to your computer to print out. Enjoy!