Naturally, I had to watch Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette immediately. I can't believe it took me so long to watch this amazing film.
Yesterday I watched the final of Project Runway Australia and despite my recent obsession wth bright bold colours, was very inspired by Dylan & Johnny's pastel palettes. The soft lavenders, cupcake pinks and mint greens reminded me of Ladree Macarons and Dion Lee's show at Fashion week last year). Then the 3rd finalist Johny explained that his collection of scarlet reds and shattered mirrors was inspired by Marie Antoinette's end, when Versailles was trashed and she was beheaded.
It is beautifully shot and the sets and costumes are so decadent, set to a rockin Indie soundtrack. Marie (Kirsten Dunst) and her cohorts traipse about Versailles, swilling champagne and popping petit fours into their rouged mouths. As lower classes worked outdoors causing tanned skin, complexions had to be pale and were painted with noxious white lead called ceruse mixed with egg-white. Veins were even traced with blue powder to encourage a translucent look. Lips and cheeks were stained in red ochre. Black silk or felt was used to make beauty spots, initially to hide small pox scars but later grew in popularity, and in size! Hair and wigs were powdered, mainly to absorb oil but gave wigs an ethereal candy-floss type look. Finely ground flour was used and sometimes coloured blue, grey, pink or red.
Married off to frigid man at 15, Marie grows increasingly bored of being a bird in a gilded cage, where she is not expected to so much as lift a finger as rigid protocol dictates her life. She is dressed and told what to wear. She is given the cold shoulder by her hubby, leaving her curled up in her huge satin swathed 4 poster alone.
As boredom ensued, she amused herself by indulging in copious amounts of champagne, decadant food and gambling. One gambling session (during her 21st birthday celebrations) went for 3 days straight.
Her clothes were housed in 3 rooms. She tried to create some semblance of control over her life by immersing herself in fashion, designing custom luxurious silk gowns adorned in tassles & ribbons, feathers & bows and accompanying the look with increasingly intricate towering pouf hairstyles.
In 1775, Queen Maria Theresa of Austria-Hungary wrote to her daughter Marie-Antoinette: “I cannot help but touch upon a point that many of the papers repeat to me too often: it is the hairstyle that you wear. They say that from the roots it measures 36 pouces high and with all the feathers and ribbons that hold all of that up! You know that I have always been of the opinion that one should follow fashion moderately, but never carry it to excess. A pretty young queen full of charms has no need of all these follies. Quite the contrary. A simple hairstyle suits her better and is more appropriate for a queen. She must set the tone, and everyone will hurry to follow even your smallest errors…". Marie-Antoinette responded, “It is true that I am a bit occupied by my hairstyle, and as for the feathers, everyone wears them, and it would look extraordinarily out of place not to”
"These intricate forms of dress were designed to showcase the power (and unfortunately for them later, the wealth) of the French monarchy...through her dress, Marie Antoinette “identified fashion as a key weapon in her struggle for personal prestige, authority, and sometimes mere survival." Source. These Marie Antoinette inspired shots by Annie Leibowitz (including Kristen Dunst and Drew Barrymore) are gorgeous.
Galliano has long been inspired by the French Revolution, resulting in some stunningly opulent gowns, as below.
This Marie Anotinette inspired soot by Wildfox is particularly cute. Love the macaron coloured hair...
I also love these shoots by Ellen Von Unwerth, starring a young Rosie-Huntington Whitely.
More Marie Antoinette shoots I love follow...here is Kristen McMenamy in a shoot from November 2010 for Vogue Italia by Paolo Roversi.
Vanessa Paradis by Karl Lagerfeld at Versailles for Tatler Russia, July 20