12.08Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: 12.08

December 31, 2008

Birthday Jewels You Can Own!

Today I will be surrounded with fluffy pink iced cakes with fresh fruit. What else did you expect. Later on this evening there is going to be a huge party, of course. But I wanted to share my first gift!

I was fortunate enough to receive this lovely pair of fun drop earrings by Betsey Johnson! They are detailed with pink enamel bows and little heart crystals, below a large pearl. Love them! You can have them too if you so desire. I might also recommend these Drop Bow Earrings with Fringe for you or your lady's jewelry box!

December 26, 2008

Powder Me! Winners!

Thank you for participating in the December Give away! Here is the list of winners for the "Powder Me!" give away!

Princesse Lamballe- Katy
Georgiana Duchesse of Devonshire- Dani
Madame Grand- Apoidea
Duchesse de Polignac- Billy Cake
Madame Du Barry- Sara
Bess Foster- Merinitta
Marie Antoinette- Diana Distorted
Lady Hamilton- Nora Simmone

Congrats! Winners: kindly contact me at my Email address with your mailing details!
Everyone, Have a wonderful New Year!!

December 24, 2008

Fashion Faux Pas

Keira Knightley filmg The Duchess, fall 2007
 Anyone who is anyone knows that you only wear gold on frosty days according to 18th century fashion. If the seasons had passed and it is time to go sleighing through the park, then by all means wear your lovely gold gowns, as it is most appropriate.

But spring, summer or autumn? tsk! 

I hope everyone is enjoying the winter season!

December 22, 2008

12 Chances Left for Tart Hearts!

There are still 12 chances to own your own Tart Heart via Georgiana's Gossip Guide! I have happened across one of these delightful champagne tart hearts and I must tell you they are extremely lovely. Perfect for a tree, yes, but- You would need to figure out a place to have it up during the warmer seasons too! So if you have not tried your luck on the tarts, click a tart below to enter.
Good luck!

Lavinia Spencer
Emma Hamilton
Bess Foster
Mary Robinson
Elizabeth Armistead
Elizabeth Farren
Seymour Worsley
Kitty Fisher
Grace Elliott

Mary Graham
Jane, Duchess of Gordon
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

December 21, 2008

The Progress of Love: The Pursuit

The Progress of Love is a group of four canvas paintings by Fragonard. The commission came from Madame Du Barry, between 1770 and 1773, to adorn the walls of her pavilion at Louveciennes. This set of paintings are extra fun because, Du Barry decided she did not want them after Fragonard had already created them. There are theories why she decided to refuse them but the most fun is that all the male figures in the paintings resembled King Louis XV! I am sure that there were other reasons - besides, everyone knew she was his favorite anyway!

He kept the works at his cousin's place, and today they are on display at The Frick (which I can not recommend enough!) Unfortunately they are not displayed as they were intended to be, but they are still just as fabulous!

The Pursuit is set, along with the other panels, in a pleasure garden. The exact place we all wish we could hang out, all day, everyday! Highlighted by warm sunlight, three young girls lay before a fountain at play. Our leading lady sees the boy to the right, who is hidden behind a garden element and camouflaged by his pale clothing.

In an exaggerated action, the girl makes a run for it. And by it, I do not mean she runs for the boy, she is escaping! Her body twist severely and her arms are thrown upwards, her dress and ribbon become caught up around her in the sudden movement.

The garden, particularly the trees in the background mimic this sudden dash. Branches, weighed down by heavy green leafage, create dramatic diagonals that lead the upward and to the right. A particular tree bends over the top of the fountain, framing this element. Which leads me to her companions.

Her companions stay at her feet, and they lay/sit in clumsy positions. Their positions reflect those of the two putti in the upper part of the fountain. This happens between figures and statues in the other canvases too. These little guys are awkwardly forced to twist and turn as they try to cling on to their subject (a whale or fish? You can fill me in on that one). The girls companions here, however do not appear to cling, but rather push the subject off- the three of them opponents to the suitor. The Pursuit is all action and surprise!

The suitor really does not deserve this treatment! He is polished and amiable. He is not hard on the eyes either. And if he is rendered after Louis, well, the we can agree that he wasn't unfortunate in the looks department as a boy! He approaches her, removes his hat and offers her a rose from the garden. His gracious gesture is right in line with courtly etiquette, obviously his mother taught him well. Imagine the game he'll have when he is in his 30's!

Our figures do not seem to have planned their meeting, instead the girls had a play date and were interrupted by the interested boy. A total ambush! In a playful and exciting manner she moves to evade his pursuits, and we see a fun naive moment of love, one sided or not...

The full series:
  1. The Progress of Love: The Pursuit 
  2. The Progress of Love: The Meeting
  3. The Progress of Love: The Lover Crowned
  4. The Progress of Love: The Love Letters

December 19, 2008

December Give Away! Powder me!!

The time has arrived!

Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century is giving away sampler jars scented dusting powder! We all know how important it was to wear powder, and these powders are perfect for after a bath or just to freshen up between dates!

Up for grabs are sampler jars of 8 delicious scents that represent 8 of our favorite ladies! Mini powder puffs are included! Click on the image to see the scent more clearly.

Princesse Lamballe
This cla
ssy tart had royal blood in her veins. She kept herself together and followed court etiquette. She was sweet and caring, devoted to her friends. Her husband died months after they were married and she was deeply affected. She spent the rest of her life a devoted friend, her friends were most important to her. This scent reflects her regal qualities and, dare I say, innocence.

Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire

The Duchess of Devonshire was a beauty who loved fashion, and if she wasn't swapping styles with the Queen of France, she was setting trends of her own in England. She was a smart girl and the first to take on a political campaign in England. Rumors spread quickly that she traded kisses for votes! This scent reflects the Georgiana at home; a loving mother and smart lady, neck and fingers dripping with opulence, surrounded by luxury of the warm scents of passing seasons.

Madame Grand
Madame Grand married well, and was a total beauty. Marriage #1 crumbled when she had an affair with another man! She moved to Paris, where some say she sold her body to make ends meet. Enter Husband #2. He supported her financially so she could move back to London. Turns out Paris was her favorite place and she lived the rest of her days there in splendid luxury thanks to her giving husband. No stranger to profligacy, this scent reflects Madame Grand's taste for the finer things in life, a medley of exotic and fun fancies. This powder dazzles with fine pink sparkles!

Duchesse de Polignac

Gabrielle, Duchesse de Polignac became best friends with the Queen of France. She came from a more modest background. She was always more likely to be seen in pearls over diamonds, and her income was never terribly impressive. These tastes are reflected in this scent of natural fruits, pears and raspberries, with notes of freesia and sweet pea flowers.

Madame Du Barry
Madame Du Barry was the exclusive mistress to Louis XV, King of France. She had influence over the king and was in competition with the future Queen of France. She wanted the most of everything. If the young dauphine got a fancy carriage, Du Barry would want one dripping with gold. Her favorite theme? Love. She was once said to arrive at a ball wearing shoes that had precious diamonds embedded in the soles. This scent reflects her exotic and romantic nature. It also revels her passion for glam, as it comes with a fine white diamond sparkle.

Lady Hamilton
Emma Hamilton began life as a poor girl with no prospects. Through a series of events she managed to climb her way to the top and become British aristocracy. After all, a life of poverty was never for Emma. She loved the finer things in life and indulged in clothes, music, the arts, and food. The Caramel scent of her powder reflects her girlhood naivety and her love of that which is sweet. It has a slight gold glitz to it!

Lady Bess Foster
Bess came from the notorious Hervey family, known for their dirty deeds. After her husband kicked her out of the house Bess was left without family, money or protection. She managed to be adopted by one of the most powerful families, The Devonshires. Bess was able to manipulate with her sweet act of being the damsel in distress. Like her powder, she appeared sweet to some, and tart to others.

Marie Antoinette

The young Queen of France found pleasure in shopping, gambling and throwing fun costume parties. She also loved opera and performing plays with her friends. Night time parties in the gardens were always a welcomed event! This scent evokes the fun nature of the life she once lived, in her early twenties, surrounded with attractive people, lots of money and beautiful things. The powder is a sweet candy floss scent, think fluffy heaps of pink cotton candy on a warm summer night!

From today until December 24th comment on this post telling me the name of the Lady whose scent you so desire!

Winners will be posted December 26th! 8 winners will be chosen, each winner will receive 1 sampler jar of dusting powder (3.5 grams) of the lady they mention.

December 17, 2008

Something Else to Own!

Tis the season to stumble upon all sorts of things that need to fill my closet and jewelry boxes! Yes, I am still dreaming about jewels but with all the weather headed this way, and all the rain I anticipate encountering in the near future, I really want to get my hands on this chic umbrella. - I mean not chic??

And the good news is:
It is more affordable than Dior's lovely Incroyables et Merveilleuses collection!! You can get this amazing umbrella here!

December 15, 2008

Eye Candy: Incroyables et Merveilleuses

112 years after Marie Antoinette was executed, Christian Dior was born. Connection? Not really but ... he moved to Paris when he was 10, and was rather fashion minded. He started the iconic style of 'figure 8' in the mid century, and really pioneered new fashion for the post war shoppers. I am posting this cocktail dress of his for fun, but what I really want to show you is...this collection!!

I have been in love with these since they came out. The collection is called Incroyables et Merveilleuses, and the pieces are stunning! It is something that any Comtesse or Duchess would pine over, each buy a different piece and giggle over them at 1 am in the gardens. Honestly! I can not even choose a favorite, I like the different little themes in all of them! Click on the image to see the larger more detailed image!

Check out Dior's entire collection here: Just click on the Incroyables et Merveilleuses collection! And I know you would just love to receive a pair of these drop earrings for your next fête!

December 11, 2008

Mr. Burke's Animated Description

Mr. Burke's animated description of the late Queen of France

IT is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the queen of France, then the dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she just began to move-in glittering like the morning star, full of life, and splendour, and joy.

Oh! what a revolution! and what a heart must I have, to contemplate without emotion, that elevation and that fall. Little did I dream, when she added titles of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace, concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should live to see such disasters fallen upon her in a nation of gallant men; in a nation of men of honour, and of cavaliers.

I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards, to avenge even a look, that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone; that of sophisters, economists and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex; that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, winch kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom.

The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise, is gone! It is gone-that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honour, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage while it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled courage while it mitigated ferocity; which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which, vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.


The Metropolitan Museum and Wrightsman Galleries

The Wrightsman Galleries are worth your donation to the Met, and oh so much more! You do not have to book a trip to Paris to see the beautiful French interiors of the 18th century. The Met has done a fine job of recreating these spaces, from furniture placement to lighting by golden candle glow.

As lit for museum visitors. Photo +Lauren Marie 
Your eyes may take a minute to adjust when you enter the wing, because as I and Heather mentioned, the main light sources come from candelabras, wall sconces and chandeliers that drip from the ceilings. Authentic? You bet.

Standard lighting. Photo +Lauren Marie 

I know you would just love to be hanging out in that room!! They own a wonderful fire screen that was in one of the rooms at Antoinette's Chateau de Saint-Cloud. So imagine that, you are in NYC but have the opportunity to stand in front of that little faithful screen where Antoinette may have stood several times. As Heather said, "Oh if fire screens could talk!" honestly!

Marie Antoinette's firescreen. Photo +Lauren Marie 
Of Marie Antoinette's, they also own her secretaire and a companion commode.

Detail shot of the top design.
The rooms are furnished with pieces in the Louis XVI style, such as this chair. The Met worked with London's Chelsea Textiles to have the original fabric recreated to the greatest degree. They chose to have it the fabric recreated in its original pure white color, rather than a faux aged look, because, the white will age in it's own time.

So you are getting the best of both worlds, the real deal, as it was when our favorite tarts and femmes were entertaining at the party and searching for places to rest their feet!

More info on the rooms at the Met and in the May edition of Architectural Digest.

December 08, 2008

18th Century Blog Play List: Gluck

I love having music playing while I am working so every now and then I am going to highlight some music that you might enjoy listening to as well! I call it an 18th Century Blog Play-List, because I am oh-so-creative!

The musical adventure will start with Christoph Willibald Gluck, who pioneered a new sound for Opera around the mid 18th century. He worked in Vienna, but moved to Paris and was supported in France. Marie Antoinette was always passionate about music and did her part of supporting music. In Paris, Gluck exhibited a new sound for opera that was a fusion of dramatic sincerity and intensity of feeling.

Like a good modern day emo song! Start out mellow, then remember your heart is broken and scream, and end it off with the intense finale!

He was quite groundbreaking for the time and wrote 8 operas for the Paris stage. He knew what he was doing! His opera Alceste was performed in Paris 23 April 1776.

The story is that King Admeto of Thessaly falls ill and it is said he will only regain health if someone makes a sacrifice of their lives to the gods. No one is willing to give up their lives, except for Admeto's Queen, Alceste. The King regains health and finds out his queen is on her way to her doom. He prays that she is spared, but the gods refuse.

King and Queen have tearful goodbyes, and the King decides that he will follow her and die with her. Once he made this choice, the gods decide to spare Queen Alceste, for the Kings generous decision to sacrifice himself.

The player below lets you hear 30 second clips from all the songs on the album, so breeze through l'opéra and let me know what you think!

She is not fashionably Chic!!

Main Entry:

1 chic


Function: noun

Etymology: French


1: smart elegance and sophistication especially of dress or manner : style chic>

2: a distinctive mode of dress or manner associated with a fashionable lifestyle, ideology, or pursuit chic>

3: a faddishly popular quality or appeal

Who doesn't want to be chic! Antoinette was totally chic in her pursuit of peasant pleasures and gowns. She wore the latest in rural chic, while wandering through her little village and Petit Trianon. So it seems that a lot of ladies we already know were tres chic, no?

So in 1856 the word chic appeared. Here is one author's definition of the term chic, written in 1896, just 40 years after the idea was introduced:

"The most perfect manifestation of the individualistic ideal in dress. It is a purely personal characteristic nether to be analyzed nor acquired, but whose presence is very readily perceived even by the uninitiated. Women of all ages have possessed it, for it is quite independent of nationality and period, also quite distinct from either wealth or beauty. Those lovely enchantresses, Cleopatra and Mary Stuart, whose fabled loveliness modern research has disproved, must have owed their successes to their ‘chic.’"

So in accordance with that take on 'chic,' let's get specific! Ladies who were....
"'most' chic were Lady Elizabeth Foster and the audacious Miss Chudleigh, sometime Countess of Bristol."

I will not be the first to admit that I am not a big Bess Foster fan. I want heathers opinion on this!

"Both Emma, Lady Hamilton, and Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, were prevented from being 'chic,'"
What! Georgie was not chic??? How could that be? She was all about fashion and in touch with it's highest players - one of its few highest players herself! You heard it in the movie trailer! "Empress of fashion" or what not!

"Both Emma, Lady Hamilton, and Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, were prevented from being 'chic' by their faultless beauty."

...Oh...much better! I suppose if being gorgeous is the take home prize for not being chic, we can live with it. They made it work!

"Women with tall profiles and divine figures are rarely 'chic.' "
In that case we can assume
Grace Elliot never had a chance at being chic....
So what is your take on 'Chic'??

December 05, 2008

Femme of the Week: Comtesse de la Châtre

Connections paved the way for the baby girl born Marie Charlotte Louise Perrette Aglaé. Her father was the first valet de chambre of Louis XV, Bontems. He had connections with a well known court banker Samuel Bernard, making life, shall we say, easier? It is good to be connected with bankers because then, when your important friends need favors, you are there to help! Another famous person of the circle was the banker Nicolas Beaujon, who married Bontems sister. So when Bontems first daughter was born, Charlotte was loved by all, and all were quite wealthy. Her uncle, Banker Beaujon, gave her a very large dowry, and for his generosity she can thank him for her exciting future adventures.

First of all, with such a large dowry she was able to marry well. When she was 16 became the Comtesse de la Châtre, she married Claude Louis, the Comte de la Châtre. Her title was exquisite. The comte was 35 years old at the time and worked for the Comte de Provence. A true blue noble, he came from old-money and as the revolution stirred, he sided with the conservative old nobility, which was fine....

....but, his young and lively wife did not share the same opinions. Had Charlotte better morals, then perhaps she would have stood by the old comte but no! The vivacious girl found herself fully infatuated with the Marquis de Jaucourt (right). They became lovers and she was very much influenced by him and his famous circle. Through him she hung out with the likes of Mme de Staël and Talleyrand. As you can imagine she formed opinions, and desired reform and hoped a revolution would bring needed change.

Charlotte had her new friends over quite often to discuss politics and they would meet in her private sitting room just outside her bedroom. Scandalous! She would also go out with her girl friends and in a Duchess of Devonshire manner, "exhibited her civic spirit." She made, "spectacles of herself," as she shared her support for reform.

Her husband ended up fleeing to England, and when the revolution started spinning Charlotte took her son and left for England too. She ended up divorcing the Comte and married the Marquis de Jaucourt. Morals were never an issue for her!

December 03, 2008