HAIR: The XVIII century fashion became very sophisticated and voluminous 3D hairstyles were common at Royal Court. Queen Marie-Antoinette played very important role in development of the new and gregarious hairstyles. Her vision with the aide of hairstylist Leonard Kuaferom, created some amazing masterpieces called “Sensitivity Explosion”, “Voluptuous”, “Secret Passion”. These highly evocative, blatantly romantic and sensual names further pushed the envelope of French court decadence.
Historical records note that making just one single wig for Queen Marie Antoinette took between one to ten hours of constant labor. Upon completion and use, the hair was not washed at all for months and was only combed with specially made tool resembling a metal hand. Why? Because of the sheer intrinsically exhausting time it took to create the coif. And to make matters worse, these behemoth concoctions were regularly greased with raw pork lard. Any woman sporting these oh so trendy “dos” would have had the added height of 3 feet upon their head. The weight varied as well since they selected a menagerie of tangibles to be woven into the deigns. The court often hosted themed galas. No well stationed woman dared not attempt to please and fascinate her peers.
Day to day activities were highly curtailed, movement kept for only the important tasks, receiving other visiting royals or social equals, partaking of tea and dancing. As one can imagine nighttime activities were no less stressful – sleeping normally was out of the question. Specially designed cushions and sleeping chairs were quite common. Armor of sorts was placed on the coiffed heads to protect the hair design’s integrity as well keeping out mice! (perhaps this is where the term “hair looks like a rat’s nest” first originated?) Due to the unusual shapes being requested (as each woman at court tried desperately to out coif the other), customized haberdashery excelled to a new level of artistry. These grandiose displays of excess gave birth to countless XVIII century cartoons and mockeries. Sadly Marie Antoinette represents the first victim of a fashion faux pas. Never flaunt all your assets. One never knows the ultimate cost – for poor Marie, it was her head.
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna von Habsburg-Lothringen (2 November 1755 – 16 October 1793), an Archduchess of Austria, was the fifteenth and penultimate child of Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor and Empress Maria Theresa. In April 1770, upon her marriage (at the age of 14 years and 5 months) to Louis-Auguste, heir to the throne of France, she became Dauphine of France. On 10 May 1774, when her husband ascended the throne as Louis XVI, upon the death of his grandfather Louis XV, she became Queen of France and Navarre, title she held until September 1791, when, at that time of the French Revolution, she became Queen of the French, a title she held until 21 September 1792.
During the Revolution, after the government had placed the royal family under house arrest in the Tuileries Palace in October 1789, several events linked to Marie Antoinette, in particular the June 1791 attempt to flee, and her role in the War of the First Coalition, had disastrous effects on French popular opinion. On 10 August 1792, the attack on the Tuileries forced the royal family to take refuge at the Assembly, and on 13 August the family was imprisoned in the Temple. On 21 September 1792, the monarchy was abolished. After a two-day trial begun on 14 October 1793, Marie Antoinette was convicted by the Revolutionary Tribunal of high treason, and executed by guillotine on Place de la Révolution (today place de la Concorde) on 16 October 1793.
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