Historical Fashion Icon
Marie Antoinette, Last Queen of France (1755-1793)
Marie Antoinette was born in Vienna, Austria in 1755. She married French Dauphin, Louis Auguste, in 1768, at the age of 14. She ascended to the throne as Queen Consort, in 1774, along with her husband, Louis XVI.
The queen spent heavily on fashion, luxuries, and gambling, though the country was facing a financial crisis and the population was suffering. The French milliner, Rose Bertin, was Marie Antoinette’s “Minister of Fashion” (official dressmaker). Bertin would present her newest creations to the queen, sometimes twice a week, and became the center of the fashion industry. The queen also had a personal hairdresser, Leonard Autie. Autie used and exaggerated the leading modes of the day, and created poufs for Marie Antoinette with heights up to three feet. The pouf fashion reached such extremes that it became a period trademark, along with decorating the hair with ornaments and objects which showcased current events. She also indulged in lavish application of rouge was worn on her cheeks, huge precise circles or scarlet, to indicate rank and distinction.
As time went on, she began to simplify her look, wearing long white dresses made of cotton, similar to those of the peasants. This was seen as an affront to France, as she looked more like a milkmaid than a queen, and was seen as a betrayal to the people of France.