Friday, March 27, 2015

Three post-18th century sculptures of Louis Charles de France

Three sculptures from post-18th century artists who were inspired by the tragic death of Louis Charles de France.

Louis XVII

Louis XVII in the Temple by Anne de Chardonnet. 19th century.
[credit: Arnaud 25]

Child King, Child Martyr by Catherine Cairn.
[credit: Phidelorme]

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Marie Antoinette (1938) Costume Guide Masterpost

Marie Antoinette (1938) Costume Guide Masterpost

A masterpost for the Marie Antoinette (1938) costume posts on this blog. Sorted by character. Updated as my blog is updated.

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette (1938) Costumes: Marie Antoinette's Wedding Gown

The wedding gown for Marie Antoinettte in the film was so sumptuous that it prompted famous fashion columnist and editor Diana Vreeland to say: "Hollywood has the most expensive couture in the world. The details, the workmanship, are second to none."

The wedding gown is the heaviest costume in the film, weighing an estimated 108 lbs. The wedding gown was made with more than 500 yards of satin; thousands of seed pearls were hand sewn into the dress, along with hand-embroidered flowers, ribbons and other designs. The dress's long train was also hand-embroidered. Marie Antoinette wears a tiara with dripping pearls, aecklace with alternating pearls and diamond and pearl earrings with the costume.

The exact color of the dress is technically unknown, however it was made with white satin and silver thread for some of the embroidery, so the dress is likely white with silver (and other colors) used for the various embellishments. It may have been reused in other MGM films from the late 30s, 40s and 50s, but this is unconfirmed.

Its current location and condition are unknown.

More Views:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Harold Piffard's illustrations for Le Chevalier de Maison Rouge

Two illustrations from a London Collins Press edition of Le Chevalier de Maison Rouge by Alexandre Dumas. The illustrations in the book were done by Harold Piffard; the entire book (and rest of the illustrations) can be viewed at

Monday, March 16, 2015

Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell Review

"By the end of Louis XVI's reign, fashion's passive role became an active one; it did not simply record events, but provoked and influenced them. Every fashion was a statement." 
--Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

In Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell delves into the aesthetics, evolution and multifaceted meanings of fashion in France from the 1770s through the revolution and its aftermath.

The book is separated into four distinct parts (Court and City, New and Novel, Fashion and Fantasy, Revolution and Recovery) and each part is further distinguished by chapters covering different aspects of fashion that fit under each part's theme. All four parts of the book are also supplemented by a short introduction that introduces the themes of each section.

In "Court and City," for example, Chrisman-Campbell discusses Marie Antoinette's penchant for fashion as well as her influence on the burgeoning fashion industry; the part also discusses the rise of "petite-maitresses," a term designated for women who were devoted to keeping up with the latest fashions, however rapidly changing or ridiculous they might be; and finally the role of the marchande de modes, such as the famous Rose Bertin, without whom the evolution of late 18th century fashion may not have been possible.

My favorite aspect of the book is Chrisman-Campbell's abundant use of various contemporary sources in her text. She quotes and analyzes material from fashion magazines, newspapers, memoirs, letters, revolutionary pamphlets and other sources; these sources give great insight into how fashion was viewed on a commercial, social and even personal level by the people who were directly impacted by it. I also greatly appreciated Chrisman-Campbell's insights into subjects that are not typically discussed in books about this period, such as chemise gowns and the chemise a la reine, the status of fashion for French emigres who fled during the revolution, extensive details about mourning fashion and its social customs, and the wave of "Anglomania" that crept into French fashions in the 1780s.

Fashion Victims is filled with gorgeous contemporary paintings, engravings,and illustrations as well as photographs of existing 18th century garments. The image reproductions are high quality and provide an excellent companion to Chrisman-Campbell's text. More important than the images, however, is the text itself. Fashion Victims is not just a pretty book: it is filled with interesting, insightful and in-depth scholarship by Chrisman-Campbell, who discusses everything from the details of elaborate court dresses to the scandal and acceptance of chemise a la reines to elaborate mourning customs to some of the strangest coiffures, like those made to celebrate smallpox vaccinations.

I highly recommend Fashion Victims, Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell to anyone interested in fashion history, 18th century fashion, Marie Antoinette, or the French Revolution.  The book is currently in-print from Yale University Press.

[I received a copy of this book from the publisher upon my request.]

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Three 18th century fashion illustrations from L'evangile profane: rite féminin

L'evangile profane: rite féminin is a stunning tome by the comtesse de Tramar which delves into several centuries of female fashion. The book features illustrations (both b&w and color!) by Lucien Metivet, Fernand Fau, and Henry Morin. I definitely recommend giving the book a look, if only for the absolutely gorgeous illustrations! I've posted three of my favorite 18th century fashion inspired illustrations from the book below.

 Marie Antoinette at the Trianon

 Marie Antoinette being dressed

French fashions and hats during the reign of Louis XVI

Monday, March 2, 2015

Italian books from the library of the princesse de Lamballe

Coutau-Begarie is hosting a fantastic auction with several hundred French historical pieces this week; among the letters and relics are several books from the library of the princesse de Lamballe. The books being auctioned are primarily major works by Italian authors. Whenever possible, I have provided a link to an English translation.