Today I presented my new talk ‘Marie Antoinette and What to she wore to the Revolution’ at the Primrose Centre in Jarrow for the University of the Third Age. This is the third time I have pretended talks for the U3A at this venue – that have already enjoyed my talk Enter the World of Jane Austen’ and ‘Tudor Talk’.
An integral part of my talk was comparing the Pink Silk Court Gown Marie Antoinette wore as Queen of France with the La Reine Chemise which she preferred. By wearing the simple white chemise dress Marie Antoinette caused a sandal and solidified the French aristocracy’s hatred of her!
My lecture included reproduction 18th Century costumes – a very elaborate Pink Silk court dress ‘Robe a La Francaise’ worn with large ornate pompadour wig and accessories. A “Chemise a la Reine” a simple gown worn by Marie Antoinette herself – worn with a Bergere hat and powdered curled hair plus 18th Century Underwear – a beautiful silk boned corset, side panniers and petticoat.
I included portraits of the period, humorous cartoons and also diagrams to illustrate my costume construction. I always am happy to hold a question and answer session after my talk – one of the most interesting questions this morning was – ‘What did Marie Antoinette wear for her execution” – I replied to say she wore a snow white chemise which she had hidden and kept immaculately clean specifically for this purpose.
During her imprisonment she was denied changes of clothes and although she mostly wore black as a widow her clothes were not washed or changed. She was also denied a comb and mirror and most necessities. I also mentioned that Marie was also polite to the very end – the last thing she said was ” I am sorry I apologise Monsieur” because she stood on the executioners foot!