In Health and In Sickness: Fashion at Heart | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: In Health and In Sickness: Fashion at Heart

September 09, 2008

In Health and In Sickness: Fashion at Heart

Christian Lacroix
In 1774 Louis XV died of the debilitating and beauty destroying small pox. There was a concern that his grandson Louis XVI would also succumb to the disease. Lucky for Marie Antoinette, her mother faced her own panic when her daughter in law fell ill and passed away from the illness.

Her own doctors were old fashioned and therefore she was hesitant to participate in the 'new medicine' which included treatments such as vaccinations. She finally decided that her family would all have the vaccination, and the Habsburg-Lorraine family became one of incredible health.

So Marie did not worry about catching the disease, but she did worry about Louis, for he had never had the medical procedure. She pushed for him and his brothers to undergo the procedure, and this was met with upset countrymen. The vaccination was thought of as "an imprudent and perilous step," and only the "Autrichienne would have the temerity to suggest it." However, she was able to convince Louis and his brothers to get the inoculation, and they set an example as the first Frenchmen to receive it.

Apparently after receiving the vaccination an unavoidable 'pustule' developed on the skin. Everybody was stressed because no one knew if that would be the beginning of the end for the boys or if they would overcome the deadly blemish. After the 'healing' period of nine days the pustules finally cleared the boys enjoyed superior health - Hurrah!

So how do you celebrate the protected health of your new sovereign? You make a fabulous hair style and dedicate it to the occasion! And that is how the coiffure, specifically, pouf à l'inoculation was born! I reccomend wearing this style during July, as Louis was inoculated June 18th, so after June 27th, the style became all the rage. On your pouf, you must wear a serpent in an olive tree, with a bright sun rising behind them. This serpent symbolized the god of medicine and healing, the tree was wisdom and the sun was enlightenment!


  1. What a great post! From which fashion show is the photo taken?

  2. Thanks! That photo is from a Christian Lacroix fashion show.

  3. Why is it there is no sketching of this hat. How do we know this is true? Maybe you have the answer.