marie antoinette styles

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http://manic-moth.tumblr.com/

I found this picture of an old painting a few days ago and I was so inspired by it’s beauty that I wanted to create a look based on it (ღ˘⌣˘ღ). Well, I had to work with the clothes and wigs I own but I was still quite satisfied. After I was done I put my black lipstick on and painted my eyes black again though (≖ᴗ≖). I can only deal with so much pastel pink for a short amount of time (-‿◦).

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Its FRIDAY FASHION FACT time! Today’s topic is long overdue: mid-18th century French court mantuas and panniers. You know what I’m talking about- those crazy-wide gowns that sort of look like wearing a fancy silk box. Whether you consider the style to be gorgeous or absurd (or both!) I’m sure you will agree on how fascinating it is that such an impractical fashion became the apex of style. So how did it happen?

The origins of the style can be traced back to the 17th Century. At this time, gowns known as mantuas were created as an alternative to the heavy bodices and petticoats (not to mention several layers of underpinnings) worn in court at the time. Mantuas were relatively light, with the top layer of the skirt pulled back at the hips. Unsurprisingly, the more comfortable style took off. Women quickly realized that the swags of the skirt at their hips caused their conically-corseted waists to appear smaller. Naturally, they began to widen the hips of the mantuas to emphasize their small waists. This was done with panniers, which were essentially stretched-out hoop skirts, though they only shaped the top of skirts, and did not extend to the floor.

The women of Versailles were the ones to take the style to new heights, or rather, new widths. As the French court was the epitome of opulence, women strove for the widest panniers possible to show that they could afford vast yardage of incredibly expensive silks, often painstakingly embroidered with elaborate designs. The peak of the mantua was in the 1740s and 50s, when it achieved the infamous boxy shape. By this time, the draped overskirt had evolved into crisp pleats in the back, perfectly paired with a smooth bodice cut close to the body in the robe a l'Anglaise style. However, sometimes the wide panniers would be paired with the robe a la Française style, in which pleats extended loosely from the shoulders.

The wide style seems absurd to us today, and it was often seen as equally ridiculous in its own time. There were plenty who questioned and mocked the over the top look. By the latter half of the 18th Century, the softer forms of the Rococo style prevailed, and the boxy mantua began to soften. By the 1770s, rounded skirts spelled the end of the dramatic manuta and panniers. It is worth noting that while many people associate Marie Antoinette with this crazy style, the look had already fallen from its most dramatic form by the time she ascended to the throne. Of course, she wore styles that were incredibly dramatic in other ways, however, that is a topic for another day.

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