Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Queen of fashion: what Marie Antoinette wore to the Revolution

Queen of fashion : what Marie Antoinette wore to the Revolution
By Caroline Weber
Holt, 2006. 412 pages. Nonfiction, biography.

In a unique approach to biography, Caroline Weber applies Marie Antoinette’s interest in fashion to tell the story of her life. This tragic queen’s life is punctuated with interesting fashion choices and became both her means of expressing power and her ultimate downfall. Beginning with her arrival to Versailles as a young girl, and ending with her death during the French Revolution, we see Antoinette’s human and courageous side as she faces internal and foreign political opponents. This books adds a new facet to Marie Antoinette scholarship and tells her tale in a very approachable, almost novel-like readability.

I had a very skeptical view of Marie Antoinette before this book but Weber’s biography gives new light to why this French queen behaved as she did, and more importantly why she dressed how she dressed. I grew more sympathetic towards Antoinette and even though I knew she would be killed, I dreaded and mourned that outcome as the book progressed. Learning how fashion choices can shape culture and political outcomes is especially fascinating to me because it is an ever present undercurrent of society but so often discredited or forgotten. I would recommend this book to those interested in a more scholarly biography or an interest in fashion, French history, art history, or influential women.


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