02.09Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: 02.09

February 26, 2009

Christian Louboutin & Marie Antoinette Sitting in A Tree

I just have to say, and I may have said it before, I adore the little works of art Monsieur Christian Louboutin creates. He had just tormented me with cute shoe after cute shoe. Now he takes it too far.

The latest jaw dropping creation of Louboutin, contrived with Jean-Francois Lesage, is on sale to the public. They worked together to make these fabulous Marie Antoinette inspired shoes, which, in my opinion, are beyond fabulous. I can't even take the whole shoe in! I get to the ship and overdoes on *shoes!*

It has it all, delicate embroideries on the base of the shoe...think embroidered satin gown. Then there are the ribbon details....lacing around the bodice of the gown, and topped off with a fabulous over the top head piece - which is an accent on the ankle. The look overall, is sexy and ultra feminine. It is a serious tribute to the late Queen, but yet fun and playful!

Another exciting thing is that although they may seem a bit too much for a non-Queen... they actually look great on! A non-Queen could totally get away with these satin lovelies!

In any case, if you want a pair, then take off of work and get to Louboutin's Madison Avenue boutique. The shoes come with a special collectors booklet, showing the design process, fabulous box and have a special number on them. The special number? 1-36. YES only 36 lucky ladies will own these shoes. The ticket? $6,295.
You can bet if I had it I would drop it for these.

I hope from the bottom of my heart that you are one of them! And if one of my lovely readers does score a pair, you are hereby required to take lots of pictures of them and share! I hope Victoria Beckham gets a pair because I know she will wear them, they would offset her new dress line perfectly!

If you catch any pictures of people wearing them send them in too! Personally I just love the pink ones, there is a deep blue pair ideal for evenings, but the yellow are so springy and would go great with a floral polonaise gown...

February 25, 2009

Art Du Jour! Louis XV donnant la Paix à l'Europe

This piece is called Louis XV donnant la Paix à l'Europe - Louis XV Bringing Peace to Europe. The work was done by François Lemoyne, a rival painter to de Troy. The piece can be viewed at the salon de la Paix.

The Salon of Peace was built at the same time as la Salon de la Guerre, Salon of War. The painting was placed there in 1729, and hangs above the mantelpiece surrounded by 6 busts of the Caesars.

When the painting was added the salon was attached to the Queen's Apartments, and used for musical performances by the chapel musicians. Marie Antoinette used the room for playing cards with men and women of the court.

In the painting, our main figure is Louis XV. Peace appears in the form of the olive branch between him and Europe. An ideal King, taking care of France right away! In the portrait he is only 19.

In return he is being offered twin baby girls. The babies are offered by Fertility, the swanky nude. His first children were twin girls and he loved them more than anything, really. What is ironic here, is that we have a portrait of Louis as King but as father. No Queen in sight! And yet it hangs in her apartments. A pleasant reminder of her family or...

February 23, 2009

Growing Up Du Barry: Lessons for Life

The instruction Jeanne received when at the the Couvent de Sainte-Aure proved to have a powerful impact on the girl, and it really shaped the way she lived her life. She developed a profound respect, yes believe it or not, for the church and she made it her business to build private chapels in all the homes she occupied. (After she became the King's favorite of course!)

The first chapel she built was at her hotel at Versailles. She picked out many pieces of art work for it's walls, candles for devotion and ornaments to fill it with. She did the same at St Vrain and the last chapel she built was at Louveciennes.

She also continued to practice the lessons she learned in household management. In fact, when she was at her height of gaiety, and had more money to throw around than imaginable, the mistress of Louis XV treated her household at Versailles as if she were a bourgeois wife!

Yes, she was happy to spend money at the blink of an eye, and she did! But every bill that would come in, from every purchase made, she would personally check over to make sure all the numbers were right. She recorded a daily account of each expense her household incurred.

Her household management extended beyond keeping the books straight. In 1792 she traveled to London, but did not forget to write a letter to her Steward to make sure jam was made from all the fruit grown at Louveciennes!

February 20, 2009

Femme of the Week: Duchesse de Lauzun

"...the most perfect woman ever known."
Amélie de Boufflers, later the Duchesse de Lauzun and then Duchesse de Biron (in stripes) was born May 5, 1751. She was raised by her grandmother after her father passed away. She was the notorious Madeleine-Angélique, Maréchale Duchesse de Luxembourg.

Grandma was once one of the delicate beauties of the court of Louis XV, highly respected, with many friends and likewise many enemies. She was a model of good breeding, high birth and believed in etiquette. Amélie was noted as a "masterpiece," the result of her education. Perhaps no one of her generation had such a wise professor in the Charm Department!

She was a noted accomplished woman, who used wit wisely. "Young, wealthy, and high born, exquisitely beautiful, pious and pure as an angel." A fearsome thing to behold indeed! What did this get her? A slew of suitors, but not just "notch on the bedpost flings," rather, romantic intrigues, men who felt genuine passion for her! Men and women alike could not resist her charismatic personality.

What fortune for her, that when she was just 13 she was betrothed to Armand Gontaut-Biron, duc de Lauzun. He was smart, ambitious and very good looking. Well- at the time he was 16, but even at 16 his looks were getting him all the attention a boy could want! What more could a bride-to-be want!

Sadly, only one man resisted her virtues, her husband! The reason for this terrible truth was because, as boys can be very stubborn, he never forgot his first impression of her. It was a circumstance that was not in her favor yet out of her control!

They were married and she lived a separate life from him. At one point she decided to be receive an inoculation against small pox. This was still a dangerous procedure, and her husband immediately came to be with her through it. It was a great success, and when it was over he left again. She went out in the fashion of the time proudly wearing her hat á l'inoculation.

Fashion ended up being a favorite past time of this princess of grace, and after Louis XV passed she wore a fabulous mourning hat with black flowers knotted together with black crepe, balanced with fruits. One particular pouf she donned was a landscape scene, with a lake, and a hunter after ducks, up top was a naughty ábbe flirting with a millers wife, and by her ear was the poor miller working!

She eventually decided to move in with her grandmother as her husband and her never spoke except for matters of business. He refused to let her leave because he feared it would tarnish his public image. She ended up getting her way however, and promptly moved back in with the maréchale de Luxembourg, who was more than happy.

In 1790 she went to see a play in Paris. A song for Marie Antoinette was encored and she applauded by hitting her fan on her box. She was then pelted with apples, among the storm someone threw a pen knife which nearly hit her!

She fled to England when things got heated in Paris for about a year. She still had some business to take care of in Paris and decided to make a short unannounced trip to Paris. Traveling back to the city was a terrible mistake and she was arrested right away. Her husband pulled some strings to get her out, but it was only temporary and they were both soon in prison. She was guillotined June 27th 1794.

February 17, 2009

Beauty Shop

A few weeks ago I received an email inquiring about beauty products today that are similar to those used in the 18th century. Today we have different ingredients and products, items we love are affordable because rare and expensive ingredients have been replaced with synthetics.

While I do not have a list of 18th century products you can buy today I have found some items that are along the same ideas, similar themes, or inspired by the beauty products of the time.

A major must have of the time was scented gloves! They were scented through a time consuming process of soaks in various essential oils. Some were even soaked in special waxes so that they both smelled delightful and moisturized your hands! This was very useful when you went riding because it helped prevent blisters on your hands. Not many companies are keeping this old tradition alive, but Maître Parfumeur et Gantier is! So if you want some perfumed gloves, check out their site and pick a pair. Their process is more modern and innovative but I suspect the fragrance can last much longer or even be refreshed!

This is a side note- Scented fans! They were popular in the Victorian days, but I am actually not sure if they were something of use in the 18th century. But either way you can get these scented fans for a bargain of a price, and choose the scent you want!

Crème Anglaise is a smooth skin lotion by B Never too Busy to be Beautiful, and it is an all natural vegan approved product. It reminds me of what would have been Pâte Royale hand cream used for softening and preventing chapping. Pâte Royale was created especially for Marie Antoinette. Crème Anglaise is made of natural butters and oils and goes on very lightly. It is super moisturizing and smells fab.

Rose Water was used for cleansing and keeping an nice even complexion, very very important for elegant ladies. Burt's Bees has a really nice Rose Water product that is super refreshing on the skin and it has aloe in it to soothe sensitive skin. Bonus!

Marie Antoinette had once asked her perfumer for something she could use in the bath. She was brought up to follow good hygiene practices, and something fun and scented for the bath was just a natural thought! She got special sachets which were to be put in hot water to release benefits for the skin and fragrance, which would cling to the skin. If you want something like this, you must select a Bath Bomb from Lush! The same idea, these bath bombs spin and fizz the minute they enter your tub making the water scented and extra moisturizing for your skin. They are packed with essential oils and some have extra surprises that appear in your water. I am linking to English Countryside (US site) because we all know Antoinette LOVED floral scents, and this one has just the right combination of floral and meadow to transport you completely.

A bonus to Marie Antoinette's bath sachets was that she could take the smaller ones and rub them on her skin, producing a smoothing and exfoliating effect, while adding fragrance to her skin. The result? Soft, smooth, scented skin. I think Lush follows suit here with their Body Butters. You rub these on moist skin and as they moisturize, they have great natural exfoliating bits in them for smoothing. Antoinette's sachets had almonds in them, and ta-da! Lush's Buffy Body Butter has crushed almond shells in it! (USA site)

Finally the closest you will come to a fragrance of the time is Marie Antoinette's Sillage de le Reine, created by Francis Kurkdijan. It was made using research on the queens favorite scents, and is sold by the Chateau de Versailles. It can be purchased at Versailles, but if you did buy this amazing, expensive little bottle of history, would you even use it??

February 16, 2009

Growing Up Du Barry

What was childhood like for the fun and flirty Madame Du Barry?

As a child she was enrolled at the Couvent de Sainte-Aure, where she lived and was educated. Each year about 40 students were enrolled and admission cost between 250 - 300 livres/yr. Some ladies would enroll for an escape or retreat, and they paid 500 livres/yr.

The school was run by 53 nuns, and the ran a tight ship. For starters, pupils were not permitted to play, goof around or basically have fun. If you were caught laughing loudly, you would be in big trouble!

Everyday the students would wake at 5am, get dressed and prepare for mass at 7am. The uniform was simple, white clothing, an unstarched veil, simple leather shoes, and a black hood. Underneath the hood they would wear a scratchy wool headband on their forehead. By 9pm it was time for bed again, and the cycle would continue.

The education provided was quite good, courses included reading, writing, needle work, house cleaning, and household management. In fact Du Barry, who was often mocked for being uneducated, had a very decent education for women of the time. She was horrible at spelling, but books she enjoyed included the writings of Cicero and Demosthenes!

February 15, 2009

Poll: Tea and Evening Garden Party

Who would you most want to have tea with and later attend an evening garden party???

Emma Hamilton 2%
Lady Bess Foster 2%
Madame du Barry 19%
Madame Vigee-Le Brun 21%
Duchesse de Polignac 21%
Georgiana D of D 28%
Marie Antoinette 71%

February 13, 2009

Femme of the Week: Comtesse de Seran

"...as beautiful as the goddess of Love..."

Adelaide Bulioud was born to a rather humble family of no fortune. She grew up into a very pretty thing but her charms were more captivating that her beauty.

Her marriage was arranged to the Comte de Seran, a man whose family was of an ancient line. When the Comte was presented to Adelaide for the first time, she "turned pale with horror, and her heart revolted against him with disgust and repugnance."

The comte was "ill formed" and had unflattering red hair. He only had one eye, and as if things couldn't get worse, that eye had a cataract. He sensed her disgust instantly and speaking to her in confidence explained that if she could get past ugliness, she would have a most honorable marriage. This assertive angle caught her off guard and after sleeping on it she realized she could not turn him down. She, being a kind-of-a duchesse de Choiseul, saw his kindness and good nature and agreed to the match. Happiness? No. But dignity I suppose.

To make matters for the Comtesse de Seran worse, the family she married into, although ancient, had no fortune left! Her friends persuaded her that gaining some titles will make her life more enjoyable, and of course having such goals gives one a reason to keep moving forward. It can also be assumed that her friends, may have pushed her in this direction for their own benefits.

The new wife made it her goal then, to become a lady in waiting to the Duchess of Chartres. Unfortunately her pedigree was questioned (the job required your linage to trace back 400 years. The matter could only be approved by the King, and Louis XV heard enough about her beauty to give the 'OK'.

So she earned the position by hand of Louis XV, on the condition that she came to personally thank him. Success! All her friends knew she would soon be a favorite! = benefits, favors and money for them!

So she went to meet with him, in private, and he was of course taken by her beauty. Where many women would bat their eyes and hold their hands out for jewels and love from Louis, she spoke kindly and maturely to him. She expressed that she would like, at some point, to have the title of Princesse d'Armagnac. He said that he would need to know and trust her for that major title, and she offered to him her time and friendship. Yes, Friendship!

The Comtesse de Seran became very good friends with the king, and they wrote letters often. He was OK with the arrangement because sometimes having a good friend is really important!

She never let the friendship move past just what it was. But it did appear suspicious to gossip loving courtiers! Rumors started that she was a mistress, and this did not sit well with the Duc de Choiseul, who could not accept anyone who was not a fan of his. When word reached Adelaide that the duc was out to ruin her, she immediately pulled strings to meet with him face to face. She then presented all her letters from the king saying he was wrong to have thought ill of her and only an innocent friendship was retained.

In fact the only favor she had accepted from the king was a small house! She remained good friends with Louis XV until his death. She then sold her only gift from Louis to make due with what fortune she had.

February 12, 2009

Fashionable Male: 19th Century Dandies just for fun!

I know I am jumping a little ahead of myself here, time wise, but I found this post, and I thought maybe some of you might enjoy it. It's all pictures... fashion pictures. You know we love the fashionable male here. I shared some below, enjoy!

February 10, 2009

Reading Material: The Memoirs of Madame Vigee Le Brun

Life can be quite crazy as an artist, which is why Lady Artist Vigee Le Brun has such great tales to tell! The Memoirs Of Madame Vigee Lebrun is a must have for your bookshelf, a great bedtime read. She jumps right into things, through letters to a friend.

I find that through her writing she is rather easy to connect to, the memoirs begin with her childhood. This is only a brief way of introduction, it explains how she became so fascinated with art, and it moves right along through her excellent opportunities in the art world. Before you know it you are making trips to the court of Versailles!

Princess Lamballe by Vigee Le Brun
She had many encounters with our favorite nobles, and amusing stories to tell! She had to deal with a pain in the butt husband, and mingle with fellow artists. She became great friends with Marie Antoinette and had the low down on her circle. There is an interesting chapter on Catherine II (Vigee did some travel!) Did I mention she LOVED Amsterdam? When she discusses Holland I am itching to book plane tickets! Here is an excerpt from her memoirs:

"About this time I also painted the Princess de Lamballe. Without being actually pretty, she appeared so at a little distance; she had small features, complexion of dazzling freshness, superb blond locks and was generally elegant in person. The unhappy end of this unfortunate Princess is sufficiently well known and so is the devotion to which she fell a victim. For in 1793, when she was at Turin entirely out of harm's way, she returned to France upon learning that the Queen was in danger..."
Vigée-Lebrun, Louise-Elisabeth. 1989. The memoirs of Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253361233

February 08, 2009

What Movies do you Enjoy?

Heather suggested posting for topic - movies that involve our favorite century! There are my obvious choices, the psychological costume feast for the eyes, Marie Antoinette and the Hollywood take on Versailles, Marie Antoinette.

But overall the scope is wide - delightful movies, costumes, acting and soundtracks - and I want to hear all of your favorites, opinions and non-favorites too. I need a movie to watch this week so suggestions are most welcome!

Here are some I cherish on the old DVD rack:

Latest addition, Ridicule