From grand palaces to her luxurious wardrobe, Marie Antoinette, whose birthday would have been this week, has become synonymous with an unrivaled sense of frivolity. Coming from Austria at 15 years old, she wed King Louis XVI and was expected to embrace a French identity. This meant not only adopting French fashion, but setting the premiere styles as the queen. Along with a whole new wardrobe, Antoinette was also appointed a French hairdresser, Léonard Autie, who would ultimately contribute to the image of the queen that we picture today.
With Antoinette, Autie invented the extravagant pouf hairstyle to match the queen’s equally gaudy wardrobe. The pouf first debuted in 1774, at the coronation of King Louis XVI, and became one of Antoinette’s most well-remembered looks. Using hairpieces, tulle, ribbons, flowers, feathers, powder, and other adornments, Autie would create masterpieces of hair that sometimes reached four feet tall and often included accessories and ornaments that had symbolic meaning. One of the most well-known poufs included a model of a ship that sat atop the waves of her hair, in honor of a French naval victory.
The queen was both revered and reviled for her taste in fashion and lavish beauty practices. The latter especially got her into trouble due to her hairstyles’ high price tag. Young society women in Paris sought to achieve the expensive and involved beauty standard that the queen set, and essentially drove themselves into debt with their poufs. Within many of the pamphlets that were passed around at the time (which basically amounted to a gossip column), criticism towards the queen denounced her for the large expenses allotted to her hair and the influence it was having on other French women.
One component of Antoinette’s hair in particular would be cause for conflict. Flour was a key ingredient in the powder used to whiten and set her hair. In the late 1780s, grain crops failed in France, causing the cost of bread, and therefore flour, to increase nearly twofold. As the working class and poor felt the consequences of this, Antoinette continued to use the flour-based powder for her vanity. The famine and economic hardship that fell upon the people ultimately contributed to the uprising of the French Revolution–and Antoinette’s hair became yet another notorious motif that threw her opulent lifestyle in relief of her suffering subjects.END
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createdAt:Thu, 31 Oct 2019 17:48:30 +0000