Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution

Caroline Weber, Author . Holt $27.50 (412p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7949-4

At Versailles, where even the daily rouging of the Dauphin's cheeks was a highly ritualized and politicized affair, and where obedience to protocol could brook no infringement, 14-year-old Marie Antoinette's refusal to wear her whalebone corset threatened the Bourbon-Hapsburg alliance. As this prodigiously researched, deliciously detailed study (perfectly timed for the fall release of Sofia Coppola's movie) of the doomed royal's fashion statements demonstrates, her masculine equestrian garb, ostentatious costumes for masked balls, high Parisian hairdos and faux country-girl gear were bold bids for political power and personal freedom in a suffocating realm where a queen was merely a breeder and living symbol of her spouse's glorious reign. An iconic trendsetter whose styles were copied by prostitutes and aristocrats alike, Marie Antoinette was blamed for France's moral decay and financial bankruptcy, the blurring of class lines and callousness toward the poor. When many of her aristocratic contemporaries donned tricolor ribbons and jewelry set with stones from the Bastille's demolished walls as pro-revolutionary emblems, a defiant Marie Antoinette reintroduced her most opulent jewels into her daily costume. The generously illustrated history by Weber (Terror and Its Discontents ) posits that the queen's fashion obsession wasn't about narcissism and frivolity but self-assertion; even at the guillotine she controlled her image with a radiantly white ensemble. (Oct. 1)

Reviewed on: 07/31/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 412 pages - 978-0-312-42734-4
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-84513-315-3
Open Ebook - 432 pages - 978-1-4299-3647-7
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