The coronation ceremony for the new king and queen was traditional. The ceremony was ages old, even the official uniforms of the attendants were decades out of style but they were required. Keeping frugality in mind, the young Louis decided to cut some corners and keep things low budget. He cut out the double coronation part of the ceremony, and just had a single coronation for himself.
|Album of the Coronation of Louis XVI, The King led to the Throne. Detail of Marie Antoinette and her ladies. French School of the eighteenth century. Source|
|“Marie Antoinette” (film) 2006, Marie Antoinette in Coronation Gown. Screenshot.|
For her husband’s coronation the young queen, with tears of joy, arrived in a dazzling gown in the modern style. The contrast between the old ceremonial costumes and her contemporary ensemble instantly set her apart. Her gown was created by her favorite dressmaker, Rose Bertin, and was covered in sapphires and gemstones. Although her gown shimmered from every angle, it was her hair that everyone was talking about.
|Anonymous, The Coronation of Louis XVI. |
Detail of Marie Antoinette with her
ladies in the grandstand. Illumination,
gouache, 18th century. Musée du Louvre.
The poufs allowed ladies to be creative and in a way they were able to speak opinions and make statements through…hair! Just as the clothes we wear can let people make statements, during the 18th century and thanks to pioneers of fashion such as Marie Antoinette, hair did as well.
|Joshua Reynolds, Georgiana, |
Duchess of Devonshire [Detail].
1775-1776, oil on canvas.
What about the Georgians? Didn’t Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire do this first? While hair was being piled high years before Georgiana and Marie were out, no one was wearing it quite as creatively. Georgiana pioneered all hair that was tall. Tall feathers, tall coiffures. A letter she received from Lady Clermont a few months after Louis’ coronation which discussed the differences between the French hairstyles from the English read, “the heads are not so high nor as many feathers…”
For lack of feathers the French ladies filled their hair with other ornaments. Not everyone may have said good things about how the new queen wore her hair on coronation day, but they were talking, and people took notice. Ladies adapted the queen’s taste for hair piled high, and mimicked her various ‘styles.’ For Marie Antoinette, her debut couldn’t have been more successful.
I originally wrote this post for Joanne Renaud at Joanne Renaud Writing & Illustration blog. It is all about fashion, first impressions and most specifically Marie Antoinette's hair!