Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lies We Tell Our Mothers....

Official Portrait of Marie Antoinette by Gautier d'Agoty (1775)

Marie Antoinette often ignored her mother's written admonitions about her dress and hair at the French court. (Who can blame Marie Antoinette given that her mother used her as a political pawn in the chessboard of Europe?) However, in two letters, she attempts to answer her mother's criticisms.

Marie Antoinette to Maria Theresa
Versailles, 17 March 1775

"It is true that I take some care of the way I dress; and, as for feathers, everyone wears them, and it would seem extraordinary not to wear them. Their height has been much curtailed since the end of the balls..."
(page 160)

Marie Antoinette to Maria Theresa
Marly, 13 June 1776

"I wasn't able to have the drawings of the coiffures before the courier left; my dear Mama must have received them through the baron de Breteuil's courier. Coiffures for women of a certain age are like all other articles of clothing and adornment, except for rouge, which old women still wear here and often more than the young ones. For the rest, after forty-five, they wear softer, less noticeable colors, the dresses are less closely fitting and heavier, the hair is less curled, and the coiffures are less high."
(page 192)

Source: Secrets of Marie Antoinette by Olivier Bernier, Doubleday & Company, NY 1985