01.09Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: 01.09

January 30, 2009

Take Some Tea

Anglomanie left all sorts of wonderful English delights in France, and particularly to the court. In some instances women would sell diamonds to purchase expensive English style beads, to keep up with fashion of course! A major trend that hit was the pleasure of taking tea.

Many ladies would spend their evenings in, having tea and enjoying each others sober company. A particular service was Devonshire Tea, which we can safely assume Georgiana spent many a day enjoying. Devonshire Tea is also known as Cream Tea. When enjoying this service, gather your closest friends, prepare scones, have a plate of clotted cream and a small bowl of jam for spreading, and a pot of tea to share!

January 27, 2009

The Progress of Love: The Meeting

Welcome back to Louveciennes, and let me introduce The Meeting. This was the second work in Fragonard's group of paintings commissioned by Madame du Barry at her pavilion, which we call The Progress of Love.

The scene is set in another lush pleasure garden, where nature overtakes architecture. The trees, with their full and knotted branches, suggest both movement and a concealment. It seems so easy to conceal a tryst within the English garden foliage....

The Meeting, at first glance, might be taken for a "storming of the citadel" scene. The young man used an unnecessary ladder to scale the short wall where an innocent lady is unattended. (An A for effort?) But the more popular theme at the time was a bit more risqué than the old medieval citadel. Here we have a planned meeting among the garden. Both parties have premeditated the arrangement and we just happen to walk in on them at this undisclosed time.

It is not, however, us who catches them! A rustling in the leaves, and maybe some low banter grabs our ladies attention. Just as her, dare I say...lover, is approaching, someone else approaches from the left! That old catholic guilt (or possibly desire to avoid scandal) kicks in and we see the girl in a sheer moment of panic. She moves to tell the boy to stop and be quiet, and looks over her shoulder to see if the approaching voices can see her.

The boy stops immediately and looks to see what is happening. He is caught at such an awkward moment of movement that he crouches half over the wall not knowing whether to fall back, over or just freeze like a statue. Of course the statues are above and we have Venus and Cupid. The direction Venus looks corresponds to the direction of the unexpected visitors!

If you remember from last time, The Pursuit was painted to be displayed on the far wall of Madame du Barry's room, next to the large glass doorway to the garden. The Meeting was painted to sit to the right of The Pursuit. So, in effect we have two large paintings of delightful scenes that are set in pleasure gardens. Between them are glass doors to the actual garden creating an illusion of a large open wall.

The idea that someone, uninvited, is intruding on the couple is heightened by the placement of the doorway to the garden. Are we the intruders as we approach the glass doors? Or! At this moment the old Comte de Foufou is walking through the glass doors from the garden! How embarrassing, now it would appear that he is the intruder! Or a final scenario... now that we have seen the risqué rendez-vous that almost happened perhaps we can expect to wander in on more of these meetings when we enter the garden. Better yet....perhaps we can count on having a rendez-vous in the garden!

The Progress of Love: The Pursuit

January 26, 2009

Do you love your toilette?

I stumbled on this lovely washroom set to update any room into a fabulous 18th century inspired escape! The design is so period, it is called Antoinette, and the simple colors would work in any room and you can spice it up with splashes of your favorite colors- whether they be insipid blue or pink! Even rich deep colors would look great!

My favorite thing about this set is that every piece has a different image on it! How rococo! The pastoral scenes are great, and the tissue box has a winter scene. The shower rings are all different and the bath towels are too fun! I also have to say that I will probably get that rug because its so classic. You only need a few pieces to set your room off!

There are only a few pieces left though :o/ and I think some are on sale. If you decorate your room with the set you have to send images! I should do a 'Readers Guide to 18th century Living' post! Let me know what you guys have done at home!

January 24, 2009

Fashionable Lady: Rules and Guidelines

Women of fashion had very strict rules to stick with, if they wanted to keep their beloved title. Their life was ruled by what constituted a fashionable lady, and it was not all shopping for lace.
Well actually it was a lot of shopping for lace!

First things first, to be fashionable you needed to be up on the latest trends. Yes basic information right? But even people who think they are tres fashionable can fall behind on trends and that is just embarrassing. Remember Kenley and how embarrassing it was for her not being in on what's hot?

If if you were caught in last weeks and god forbid last month's style you would be laughed at! It was fun to see who fell behind in style and even more exciting when you obtained the new style first. So step one, be on top of your game and at the boutique first.

Marie Antoinette was always first to sport the latest in France, likewise Georgiana would pioneer new styles in England. The two even sent gifts to each other of serious fashion breakthroughs when discovered. A fashionable lady would look to Antoinette and Georgiana for a guide as to what to wear.

Once you managed to see what the queen was wearing sadly you could not run down to the shops and pick it up. Sometimes a latest style would not be sold to anyone (even the highest ladies of rank) for up to a week after it was premiered.

What else do you have to do to be Fashionable? This may seem silly now, but go get a small dog! All the fashionable ladies carried a small dog around with them. Sometimes in the rush of mornings a lady might be whisked off in her carriage while still in a daze, and if she forgot her dog, a second carriage would be sent to fetch him so she would have the puppy for the days events.

Requirements for a fashionable dog? Small, always white and at least, mostly white and usually has curly hair.

Last but not least, fashionable ladies were known as Lamps. Etiquette demanded that they did not rise before 11am. Later was not unusual. It made sense, considering the late night parties and gambling.

Breakfast? One cup of chocolate in bed!

January 21, 2009

Be Back in a Few Due to Vapours

I found myself suffering a sever case of vapours last night and of course I could not find my smelling salts anywhere! It was quite unfortunate! I could not even find a bit of snuff! I will be laying low this week. O.k. I don't have a snuff box but yesterday I sure wished I had! This one is particularly fabulous and if I had one I would want it designed along these lines.

This snuff box dates mid 18th century and is French. The artist is Pierre-François-Mathis de Beaulieu, and it is made out of golds in different shades, and enameling. It features a portrait of Catherine II, a lady who had it going on! Perfect imagery to kind of bring you to your senses when suffering a bout.

Along the side panels of the snuff box are more imagery to bring you back to earth, and snap you out of it. They serve a dual purpose, represent dear Catherine's great qualities, and to remind us of our own inner qualities. Four personifications line the sides.

Strength of spirit
. This is important because you need to remember that you are in control here! And you are not crazy - no matter what that tart Fanny says!

Perpetual logic
. Très important. You do not
attend the best salons in Paris for nothing! You are wise amongst all modern day topics and your friends think so too!

Justice. Of course ! You don't deserve this spell, so surely it will go away soon, once the higher ups realize that.

. Need I say more? You know these feelings and you know just what they are! Time to get a grip open the box and get through this!

Head down and power through ladies, there is a pastoral themed ball tonight!

January 19, 2009

Paris Travel: To Cab or Not to Cab?

If you were visiting Paris in the 18th century, you would be in luck! It was possible to navigate the city by purchasing maps and following the clearly labeled streets. (Street names were carved into the buildings on corners.) Of course it was not a very wise idea to walk, as it was dangerous and dusty. The economical way to travel would be renting a cab!

Cabs were great because they were a steal at 1 livre 10 sous/hour! The cab system in Paris was pretty well pulled together. Every cab was numbered. There was a central station where you could go i you lost items on the ride, and they were usually there! necessaires, feathers, corsets...

The only cons of a cab were that they were not very safe. One might get that rush in their stomachs wondering "did I make the right choice" after the cab has taken off. If you are not second guessing whether or not you should have rented a coach, and a little danger doesn't bother you, then the only other thing you would have to get past is the lack of cleanliness! (grimy!) And I am not talking dust here. These cabs were infamous for being just filthy. But cheap and quick. Your call!

January 16, 2009

A Collection of 18th Century Inspired Things

I have received several links from you, to really neat items for sale inspired by the age of Louis XVI. So I thought I would put them together for you to wander through and pick and choose what you want! Because sometimes you just have to have them!

This is a really pretty 'double charm' locket by Lunestar, inspired by Marie Antoinette. I love lockets, but I don't seem to have any right now!

The next products win for packaging and style!
"Lip balm goes luxe with life-changing pocket-sized glass pots by TokyoMilk. Open up the royal, sparkly packaging to discover dreamy, delicious flavors."

Let Them Eat Cake has you floating on a cloud of vanilla cake. Where else would you want to be??
oh Heather....
Petit Fours is a rich dessert mix with a drop of coconut.
Song in D Minor Parfum , White orchid, orange flower, gardenia and amber crushed and distilled to perfection. I found these items listed on Amazon at really good prices....so if they sound good, hurry and get one!
Let Them Eat Cake Parfum, Sugar cane, coconut milk, vanilla orchid and white musk crushed and distilled to perfection. yum!
The Pink Room - Parfum no. 1 Romantically packaged in Rococo Pink and Gold, with a nod to Marie Antoinette. "Imagine Marcel Proust having tea with his aunt in the garden at about four. As the sun becomes more gentle, the old roses start to give off their bouquet Lime cuts across, taking away the cloying sweetness, some bergamot to give a mellow richness also some jasmine, a little violet and vanilla for the petite Madeleine. Not too heavy, not too rich."
Okay next is Let Them Eat Cake (popular theme?) lip balm by LUSH. Orange and lemons, currants and sultanas, vanilla, sherry and treacle. I have it and love it! But they have SOLD OUT online, so if you are near a store you are lucky pick an extra up for me please....
Hand made note cards! I can just imagine throwing a fun dinner party -exclusive of course- and sending out the invitations on these charming cards!
These make me melt by their cuteness factor! Damask booties for little ones! Dress them up and take them out and take lots of pictures...they will look like princesses!
Motion Picture Masterpieces Collection ... The line up is great - starting off with MGM's 1938 movie, Marie Antoinette staring Norma Shearer. If you have not seen this you must, you will love Louis, and it covers many notable events. Unlike the 2006 movie, the story reaches the revolution. The costumes are Hollywood-Glam, I mean the opulence of the dresses and sets are quite stunning, sometimes over the top. I read that Marie Antoinette's 'wedding gown' in the film weighed around 40 pounds! Other movies include Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and Treasure Island.
OK that is a lot to take in... Enjoy!

January 12, 2009

Who needs a Fountain of Youth?

It is important to take care of your skin, a beauty trick Marie Antoinette paid attention to! When she first entered the lines of France everyone noticed, remarked - raved about her complexion. She was young, vibrant and full of excitement only a 14 year old queen to be could feel.

What did they say? The whiteness, almost translucent quality of her skin was equivalent only to the delicate petals of lilies. This was the base of her complexion, and it was highlighted by the red and pink hues which could only be produced by roses. Pretty? Sure! Poetic? Very!
What more could you want of an Austrian Queen of France? For beauty she had it all! Skin made of Austrian roses and French lilies of course!

Now don't think that Antoinette went around eating chocolate and ruining her complexion to a life of petty leisure. Au contraire! She did like her skin, and she was raised to lead a life of cleanliness. Let's face it. She intended to keep 20-year-old skin for as long as she could.

Antoinette used eau cosmétique de pigeon (that sounds lovely right?) and eau de charmes to clean her skin, the later was special because it contained moisturizers.

For her hands she had a Pâte Royale cream, keeping them super soft to the touch. I am sure you use the same!

Another item on her bathroom sink* was eau d'ange. This water of angels was used to "purify and whiten" her complexion. Did it work? It probably did not hurt, and was not meant to dry out her skin. A little moisture can go a long way!

Other ladies of the court were known to purchase eau de Ninon de Lenclos, but not Antoinette! She really had no need for an item that was intended to, "conserve youth."

*found the bath-bombs and carved slices of soap in the images @ Lush

January 08, 2009

Tea with Mr. Darcy

The portrait from the BBC series Pride and Prejudice will be up for auction this month! It features Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy and would look darling in any ladies living room. Or bedroom. It is expected to sell for £7,000. Do you think it will bring in more money than that?? Lets consider that over 10 million people watched the original premier of the mini series!
" The painting, which will be sold in aid of charity, will go under the hammer on January 21 in Bonhams Gentlemans Library Sale."

The Queen Just Stepped Out to Recieve the Duchess of Devonshire

If you go to Petit Trianon you can wander through the interior, noticing the lovely details of walls, furniture, colors, flooring and the view. You may also stumble into private quarters, where small exclusive gatherings took place; nights of music, comedy and gossip. Another thing to notice are the small items that were owned by Marie Antoinette, on display, as Paris Atelier puts it,
"The museum wanted one to feel as though the Queen had just stepped out for a moment and you looking into a day in her life."
Well, Paris Atelier also posted this photo and I couldn't help notice this small compact. If you want your own like this, then you are in luck that I am such a fan of pretty make up. Mac has offered a holiday series and the 2007 series, Royal Assets, features a compact oh so like this one!

Unfortunately Royal Assets was a limited edition, and now can only be found on ebay for a steep rate. Worth it? The case comes in antiqued silver or gold with the special mac crown enblem. The palettes come with 2 shades of color, and 1 shade of gloss (I mean a shade of lipglass) - which smells like chocolate. Color names include Courting Rose, Reigning Pink, Lady Ship, Pure Pomp, Sceptre, Privee, Cardinal and Media. So if you have to have it, you can get it!

Still want the sweet 3 lip compact? Mac is selling sets from their 2008 line, Viva Glam on their website. The case is not as 18th century as the Royal Assets case but it is just as pretty with a large gem in the center, mirror, application brush and yes, the lip gloss smells of chocolate!

January 07, 2009

Footwear for the Modern Duchess

Its a new year and I was just looking for ways in which I could infuse my closet with some Antoinette-esque key items. I was considering color, shapes and ornaments - and then I thought, what modern interpretations would the fabulous tarts and femmes like?

What do you think? Would Marie dare adorn her feet in any of these creations? Do some scream "oh she is a Du Barry" or "innovative duchess" or "breathtaking countess" Should I add some to my collection? What would you choose?

1Nine West Women's Erland Sandal
2Bandolino Women's Dacoda Pump
3Nina Women's Paladin Pump
4Nine West Women's Gidsa Pump
5Hale Bob Women's Rosy Pump
6J. Renee Women's Elvira Slide
7Irregular Choice Women's Countess Pump
8Matisse Brandy Low Heel Pump
9Irregular Choice Women's Cluedo Pump