Proving yet again that I really do have a fascination with Austrians, our newest item, the “Antoinette” hat, is inspired by none other than French queen Marie Antoinette. Of Austrian birth, she married into royalty at the tender age of fourteen as it was hoped that her union to Louis-Auguste, the Dauphin of France, would mend relations between their two countries. The young queen became infamous after being accused of spending France into ruin with her shopping sprees, gambling, and lavish lifestyle. Upon further inspection, it is evident to many that history (and an angry mob) did this lady quite a disservice. While she really was a bit of a fashionista, much of the “criminal behavior” she was blamed for was nothing more than misguided accusations. In many ways, Marie Antoinette was a political pawn, a mere child trying to live up to the expectations of those around her. In later years she became more politically active as well as frugal, however she did not exude much power and was unable to revive her tarnished reputation.
I’m not sure why I have always been drawn to this tragic historical character. Maybe it’s my fondness for misfits or desire to uncover truths hidden beneath thick layers of conjecture and rumor. There are many resources available which offer a variety of perspectives, many of which are quite intriguing. Sofia Coppola also released a film in 2006 that is rather delightful, and while it does take some artistic liberties, the sets and costuming are reason enough to see it.
Here are a few of my favorite Marie Antoinette facts:
The king and queen were philanthropists.
She never actually said the famous quote, “Let them eat cake”.
It is believed that Marie Antoinette had Habsburg jaw, a genetic defect often caused by generations of intermarrying.
Although her husband banned the play “The Marriage of Figaro”, which promoted egalitarianism, the Queen loved it and is the reason it was able to be viewed in packed theaters.
She enjoyed canine company, and it is even recounted to have approached the guillotine holding her dear pet papillon, whose life was spared after the queen met her terrible fate.