03.09Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: 03.09

March 30, 2009

Boys! Armand Louis de Gontaut, Duc de Lauzun

Armand Louis de Gontaut was born April 13, 1747 in Paris. He was born into the title of duc de Lauzun. Later he inherited the title of duc de Biron. He was 'noticed' after writing a intelligent essay on Great Britain's military defenses and after several successful military efforts he became maréchal de camp. But before he was a successful military leader in Connecticut, aiding George Washington, he did a lot of travel and spent a lot of money. Ah the life of the well-to-do!

He found himself betrothed to Amélie de Boufflers when he was just 16. The pairing was an ideal match for the family, as she was incredibly wealthy, and of old noble blood. Being told who he was to marry didn't sit well with the stubborn teen, who had 'promised' himself he would not marry against his will. Did teens always cause drama?

Truth was, he was already popular among the ladies at 16! He had both charisma and good looks, and no boy would want to settle down when he had the world in his hands...

He agreed to go see his bride-to-be while incognito at a ball put on by Madame de Mirepoix. The ball was to begin at 5 and end at 10. The hours were early because all the guest were youths or newly weds, and could not stay out late. Society rules you know! So the duc arrived promptly at five and to his delight he was just fascinated by the beauty of the girl whom he just met. She was charming with a nice figure, and pleasant.

The dismay he felt can probably only really be known to a teenage boy when he found out the lady he had thought was Madamoiselle de Boufflers was not her at all! Instead he was introduced to his future wife, and only saw before him, an undeveloped, polite child, the 13 year old Amélie. Although she was sweet and innocent, he saw her as just what she was, a child. In comparison to the voluptuous tart he had been chatting with, his opinion had been formed and he did not care for Amelie at all.

Of course she grew up and developed, her looks were remarkable! Her elegance only grew with her. The duc spent the 2 years of the engagement playing the fields, keeping lady after lady - only the pretty ones, and was no stranger to dirty reading. It did not take long after the marriage that he tired of his pure and poised wife, and continued to have mistresses.

He was away at war for several periods during the marriage, and placed a lot of importance on his public image. Unfortunately his efforts seemed in vain when, the Reign of Terror began, and he was arrested for lack of civic virtue. He was guillotined when he was 46, December 31, 1793.

March 24, 2009

18th Century Chic, in your home

Decor Decals, wonderful because they can make a boring white wall an interesting centerpiece, bring dimension to a bare room, promote that feeling of being somewhere extra fabulous, they can be peeled off if you tire of them and are rather affordable solutions to a fabulous room makeover!

Pick a room to dress up - bedroom, bathroom, living room, den. Any color paint will do and you can choose your decal colors. Soft pink walls? Go with a light gray appliqué. White walls remain classy with black. Some of my favorites are:

Baroque (baroque?)

Ta-Da! My favorite, Amsterdam. Perfect for a hallway lit by candlelight!

For a full room make over check out the great *18th century inspired* hand made wall paper designs at Nama Rococo!

March 19, 2009

Fashionable Piece for Fashionable Ladies

Who doesn't love a nice piece for the kitchen? Remember when we talked about taking chocolate in bed for breakfast and how yummy it is to be so fashionable? Well let me introduce the pot your chocolate would have been served from!

This lovely piece was owned by Maria Leczinska. It is silver-gilt and part of an 18 piece set which features her arms. The set is special because it was a gift from Louis XV! He chose to gift the Queen with a lovely set of china after she gave birth to the Dauphin.

He was obviously thoughtful in his choice! The detailed feel of the pot and the spout are little dolphins, (the french is dauphin.) The fancy feet and spout show how rococo design could morph into practical everyday objects, creating an object of fabulous craftsmanship and style. Anyone for chocolat?

March 18, 2009

Growing Up Du Barry: Scandal!

Before she was swiped up by Louis XV, Jeanne Du Barry had several jobs and worked for her money. One of her jobs was the femme de chambre to the widow La Garde. Madame La Garde was married to a farmer who had recently passed. She had two sons and a modest home located just outside of Paris.

Both the sons ended up falling in love with the beautiful young Jeanne when she moved into the house. She was a temptress and trotted around knowing just what she was doing. The brothers fought tirelessly and violently over her, think "Boyfights". Finally the poor widow, already heart broken over the loss of her husband, had to force Jeanne to leave her house, in the hope that peace would be restored once again in her life.

True the widow La Garde had two sons. But at the time of Jeanne's employment with her they were both older and married. They had respectable public jobs and lived on their own estates. So in fact, the story of the love triangle woven by the temptress little Jeanne is fabricated! Isn't Scandal fun!?

March 16, 2009

Exhibition: Court Pomp & Royal Ceremony

Only at Versailles: Court Pomp!

This fabulous show is one not to be missed. Living up to it's name, this exhibition is to feature the major styles that affected court fashion. Dresses, jackets, jewels, shoes, skirts, hats... it will cover the years spanning 1650-1800 , and feature major trends from not only the court of France, but Europe's other fashionable courts as well.

Court Pomp & Royal Ceremony aims to show not only how court fashion evolved but how it effected ceremonies, rituals, and everyday dress. The fashion exhibited by the French Court really led the way for other European courts, and this will be evident as well.  Included in the exhibition is the crown worn by Louis XV at his coronation ceremony in 1722.  After the ceremony all the precious stones were removed and replaced with copies.
"The costumes exhibited here evoke not only the exceptional circumstances accompanying the beginnings of national monarchy and the lives of European monarchs and courtiers (coronations and ceremonies of orders of chivalry) but also the prestigious events held at all courts, such as weddings." Versailles Website
The show is only going to be assembled for a short time at Versailles. What will you find? An impressive display of over 200 pieces for you to spend an afternoon drooling and dreaming over! Many of the pieces will be on display for the first time out of their home country, and others are only on view this one time as they have been graciously lent by private owners! The show sadly will only be on view for 12 short weeks, so pencil in on your calendar to stop by the Palace of Versailles and check out this show!

Court Pomp & Royal
Ceremony, Palace of Versailles
31 March 2009 - 28 June 2009

March 10, 2009

Fashion Alert: Louis XV Trend Summer 2009

Fashion Alert!
This summer you must be caught in this look. It is called Louis XV and it is hot! Inspired by his royal highness when he was just 19, this style is the perfect look to wear if you are going to be shopping on high street, attending the races, or just running errands. It is a daytime look.

First rule is pick a variation of blue. Blue was Louis' favorite color and it is very important for it to be the main color of the outfit. To start this look you can go all out fabulous with a blue silky dress (Express), which says you are high fashion and ready for the day. OR if you don't feel like wearing a dress, go with a more casual skirt (TopShop). Pair this with a silver, bronze, pink or white top. The great thing about this look is that either way, it is casual enough for every day activities!

Next we are going to pair up your dress/ skirt with these soft pink, cropped leggings (Fashion Junkie). This instantly dresses down the look and makes it versatile for going out and about.

Finally, add the finishing touches! Sandals in the roman fashion (Blowfish), make this look complete. These are perfect because they are beyond comfortable. The style of the sandals is casual and fit for summer, and the wrapping of the cords gives a 'casual but elegant' look. This little detail really sets off the style.
There you have it! Fashion a la Louis XV.

March 06, 2009

Femme of the Week: Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday et d'Armont

"Great thoughts are always better nursed in the heart's solitude"
Marie-Anne Charlotte was born in 1768 to Jacques Francois de Croday et d'Armont and lady Marie Charlotte-Jacqueline of Gauthier des Authieux. Her parents had an ancient noble name, however any fortune the family once had had been lost to time and they lived by very modest means. She was born a fourth child and second daughter. One sister died young, and her brothers left for the army. She also lost her mother.

She and her last sister left for the Abbaye aux Dames, where religion made a deep impression on her. She remained there until she was 20, the revolution forced the abbaye to close.

"Her open forehead, dark and well-arched eyebrows, and eyes of a gray so deep that it was often mistaken for blue, added to her naturally grave and meditative appearance; her nose was straight and well-formed, her mouth serious but exquisitely beautiful...she had a complexion of transparent purity' enhanced by the rich brown hair which fell in thick curls around her neck, according to the fashion of the period."¹
She went to live with her aunt, an old royalist, and watched the Revolution develop, listening intently to all the politics but never participating. She learned all about the fall of the Girondists whom she understood Marat to be their prosecutor.

Charlotte received several offers of marriage at this time, all which she turned down, perhaps the most affected by her rejection was M. de Franquelin, a handsome fellow who worked for the cause of the Girondists. Marie-Anne Charlotte spent much time at her aunts thinking, and thinking about her falling country. Her aunt caught her several times dwelling on the topic, sometimes even crying over it.

Finally she gathered some money and a passport and paid a visit to her father to say she was going to England for safety. She gave her properties to her friends and left. She actually headed to Paris, and took up a room for a few days that was dark and shabby.

She sent Marat 2 letters requesting an interview, but was denied, so she called on him that evening anyway. His 'wife' answered the door and refused to let her in, but Marat recognized she was the lady that had written him twice and had her sent in. He was in the bath with his papers in front of him. She then related business about Girondists in her home town, which he took note of and assured her they would be at the guillotine soon enough. This upset her and she pulled a knife from under her fichu and stabbed him in the heart.

Portrait of Charlotte Corday, paintined while she was in prison by Hauer in 1793. Versailles. Photo via Elisabeth

Charlotte was interrogated in his living room later that evening. She wanted to go out in the style of 'Perfume' where the crowd ended her life instantly, but instead she was transferred to a prison. She was tried and promptly sent by cart to the guillotine.
¹ Corday, Charlotte, Kavanagh, Julia, Woman in France during the Eighteenth Century. New-York; London: Putnam's Sons, 1893. p. 144

March 02, 2009

Out of the Salon

Business in London this week! Tea with Mr. Darcy and other related things to do!

I am headed off now, it will be so weird to be away from the blog and everyone for so long!! I am looking forward to all the gossip when we get back!
- Lauren

About Her: Madame Du Barry

"She is tall, well made, ravishingly fair, with an open forehead, fine eyes, pretty lashes, an oval face with little moles upon her cheeks, which only serve to enhance her beauty, an aquiline nose, laughing mouth, clear skin, and a bosom which most would be wise to shun comparison."

Souvenirs de Jean Etienne Despreaux