Week 6: Marie Antoinette. In Art and Popular culture

I have seen my share of American and European films about Marie Antoinette. One of my favourite blogs, Frock Flicks, made the most complete list I have seen of all the movies about the French Queen (view it here). I have decided to feature just a few of the very best actresses who have been lucky enough to portray the fabulous Marie Antoinette (how jealous I am that they got to wear all these sumptuous costumes during filming!)

Best portrayals of Marie Antoinette in films. All actresses from 30s to our time

My favourite portrayal is Kirsten Dunst in Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, partly because the film is so gorgeous. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it!

Marie Antoinette actresses

Marie Antoinette in Art

It is always interesting to compare actors to actual portraits of the historical figures they are portraying. Marie Antoinette had more than her fair share of portraits painted during her lifetime.

Marie Antoinette with a Rose  by  Vigée Le Brun

Marie Antoinette with a Rose by Vigée Le Brun

Portrait of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France by  Jean-Baptiste Andre Gautier-Dagoty

Portrait of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France by Jean-Baptiste Andre Gautier-Dagoty

By   Martin Meytens

By Martin Meytens

By unidentified artist

By unidentified artist

Portrait of Archduchess Marie-Antoinette by  Joseph Ducreux , 1769   

Portrait of Archduchess Marie-Antoinette by Joseph Ducreux, 1769

Portrait of the Queen Marie Antoinette by  Jean-Baptiste Gautier Dagoty

Portrait of the Queen Marie Antoinette by Jean-Baptiste Gautier Dagoty

Marie Antoinette En Chemise, Portrait Of The Queen In A "muslin" Dress, By  Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Marie Antoinette En Chemise, Portrait Of The Queen In A "muslin" Dress, By Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Marie Antoinette was and is an enduringly  popular figure among artists and photographers. Although she is certainly seconded by Cleopatra, who has inspired an even more impressive body of paintings and sculptures. You can see Cleopatra's representation in Art on my blog here. Regardless, Marie Antoinette, without a doubt, deserves the status of the most fashionable and glamorous European royalty in history.

Week 6: Marie Antoinette. My French Queen Inspired Look

Ulia Ali as Marie Antoinetter

Every week when I am creating new pastiches or looks inspired by famous historical figures, I wonder how to make them recognisable, yet not too costume-y. I wanted my Marie Antoinette look to be beautiful, memorable, but still wearable.

I opted for this beautiful Diana gown from Lurelly with pastel embroidered flowers and some fancy jewellery, including my matching ring and a bracelet with amethysts. I was thinking of trying Marie's iconic pouf hair with baby powder sprinkled all over my brown hair, but decided to keep the look more XXI-st century appropriate :)  

Blog by Ulia Ali
Ulia Ali trying on the role of Marie Antoinette

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Week 6: Marie Antoinette. Interesting Facts

Top 10 facts about Marie Antoinette. Blog by Ulia Ali

The 6th Week on Pastiche.today is dedicated to probably the most fashionable and famous queen of France - beautiful Marie Antoinette. Her extravagant, over the top lavishing lifestyle, expensive tastes and lively personality made her one of the most scandalous figure of the 18th century. During her reign, the queen spent enormous amounts of money on myriads of fancy dresses, shoes and jewellery and parties. Thus, led to her extreme unpopularity among the common people and fuelled the French Revolution that changed the history of France forever. In 1793 the King Louis xvi and his wife,  the Queen Marie Antoinette have been executed by guillotine on Place de la Revolution,

I have selected the most interesting facts about Marie Antoinette that you might never heard about! Here are

TOP 10 interesting facts about Marie Antoinette:

1. Marie was an Austrian princess.

It is a common mistake when people think that Marie Antoinette was French. She was born Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna and was the 15th child of Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia – the rulers of Austria. At home they called her Antonia, but after she moved to France, she changed her name to something more française, to Marie Antoinette.


2. She had a sharp mind and many talents.

Future queen of France was growing up showing a great potential. Marie played the harpsichord, spinet, clavichord, and harp. She could speak German, French and Italian. She was also a very beautiful, graceful dancer and a talented singer. The only thing she was scolded all the time for was her poor handwriting. 

3. Marie Antoinette was an ugly duckling. 

Marie Antoinette was betrothed to Louis XVI of France when she was just 12. During the negotiations, the French court had made unpleasant comments about Austrian princess' appearance, noting that her teeth are crooked. Apparently it was a serious obstacle, therefore French doctor Pierre Laveran was immediately commissioned to perform very complicated and painful oral surgeries to perfect Marie's smile. These surgeries were performed on 12 years old Marie without anaesthesia and took several months in total before she could smile back at her haters, showing new straight and beautiful teeth. 

4. Marie became a beauty in her teen years. 

The surgeries and puberty transformed Marie into one beautiful, elegant creature. When she arrived to France at the age of 14 people loved her for her beauty and admired her bright blue eyes, porcelain white skin and ash-blonde hair.



5. It took seven years for the future king and queen to consummate their marriage.

Marie Antoinette and Louis-Auguste were married for 7 years before they finally became intimate with each other. It is believed that the dauphin was suffering from a painful medical condition that made him impotent. The gossip about the "fake" marriage was circulating all around Europe. After many years, the rather piquant and peculiar problem was resolved either by a surgery, or by other mysterious interference in the Royal chambers. Within a year, Marie bore the first princess of the couple's 4 children.


6. Marie Antoinette had a diva hairdresser.

Famous Parisian hairdresser Leonard was so in demand that he could not leave his salon in Paris often enough even for the Queen herself. He had appointments with her only on Sundays at a very strict time.

Leonard is responsible for creating Marie Antoinette's the most iconic hairstyle - the pouf. The pouf was almost like a mood-board, expressing political messages, favouriting people and fashion trends, through intricate shapes and extravagant accessories. For example, Marie Antoinette wore a big sailing ship hairstyle to celebrate the alliance between France and the American colonists.

7. There is a U.S. city named in honour of Marie Antoinette.

The first permanent settlement of the Northwest Territory in 1788 was named in honour of France and the French queen, Marietta. Marietta was an affectionate nickname for the Queen. The city hasn't changed the name since and is located in the state of Ohio.


8. Marie was a coquette, beauty guru, life of a party and a trendsetter.

Bathing was one of the greatest luxuries of that time, and while most people bathed once a year. Marie had a daily baths with aromatic oils in her private bathroom. Marie would sleep wearing gloves coated with a mixture of wax, rose water and sweet almond oil to keep her hands soft and young.

Marie Antoinette also had an envious wardrobe as she ordered about 300 gowns a year. She also purchased shoes, jewellery, accessories, hats, make up products, expensive perfumes, essential oils and other "beautiful thing" almost every single day! She was also a heavy gambler and spent close to $7 million dollars by today's standards on her "pleasure house". Her unpopularity with the French crowd was growing as fast as her bills.

9. Marie showed a great bravery and wisdom at the end of her reign.

Before the French Revolution threats, Marie was not heavily involved in political decisions, and as she often wrote, had a very little influence over her husband's decisions. However, when revolution was about to break out in France, the Queen started actively seeking ways to save her family and the monarchy why the King remained indecisive and apathetic. She was meeting with ministers and ambassadors, was writing to other Royals seeking for military support. Many was offering help to the Queen, however she was refusing to escape France without her entire family. Unfortunately, their only attempt to escape was a late made decision, and they were all captured within 24 hours.

10. She remained herself until her very last breath.

Unfortunately, Marie Antoinette was beheaded on October 16, 1793. Her last words are reported to have been, “Pardon me, sir, I did not mean to do it”, when she accidentally stepped on the executioner’s foot while climbing the scaffold.

Marie would like:

Check tomorrow for more curated Marie Antoinette theme inspired items!


Week 3: Cleopatra. The Queen of The Nile in history and popular culture

The Queen of the Nile, Cleopatra in films and popular culture. Played by different actresses.

The Third Week on Pastiche.today is dedicated to the most famous, seductive and powerful woman in the history of mankind, to the Queen of Egypt - legendary Cleopatra. To this day the mysterious persona of Cleopatra excites the minds of writers, film directors, artists and advertising creatives. Interpretation of her fashion looks are often seen on runways and red carpet events. Often none of these popular culture images of Cleopatra are true to the history. Thus, Cleopatra stays the intriguing historical figure, almost mythological creature, making us wonder who she really was.

There are some interesting facts I discovered that are often overlooked and not as widely known to the public. Here are


1. Cleopatra was one of the richest females in history

She became queen at the age of 17 or 18, and ruled Egypt with her father King Ptolemy XII Auletes. After his death she married her brothers as it was accustomed in pharaoh families. Later, during the 'game of thrones', Cleopatra put to death all her siblings, and became the only heir of Ptolemaic fortune. Today Cleopatra's wealth would equal around 100 billion dollars!

2. Cleopatra was a 'make-up guru'

It is impossible to imagine Cleopatra without her iconic bold make-up with striking eyeliner. The Egyptian queen was indeed a make up and beauty products expert. She liked to experiment with different products, and used mixes of different oils, iodine, iron oxide, seaweed, clay, henna and other ingredients for makeup. For example, to fill her beautiful brows and line the eyes, Cleopatra used Kohl - a cream made from the sheep's fat mixed with powdered lead. The Queen also had her own perfume factory near the Dead sea.

Moreover, Cleopatra was a scientist and researcher, and its is believed she wrote a book called Cosmetics. The book was a serious work about medicine and pharmacology, and also contained great beauty secrets.

Cleopatra make up. Elizabeth Taylor


Cleopatra was fluent in more than nine languages, including Greek, Arabic and Hebrew. (And I am here being proud of speaking five... Shame on me!). The Queen was also a mathematician, a scientist and was respected and highly appraised among everyone who was privileged to ever meet her. Moreover, she was charming, witty and a strong leader of Egypt. All these facts are greatly overlooked in our history as majority of the written knowledge about Cleopatra comes from enemy sources - Rome. Romans preferred to portray Cleopatra as a seductress and a mistress to powerful Roman men.

4. The Queen was magnificent, but not necessarily physically beautiful 

There is no doubt Cleopatra was an extraordinary woman, and was found irresistible by many men who looked upon on her. However, coins with her portrait, her ancient sculptures and writings about her that survived to these days, note that the Queen had strong jaw line, long nose and thin lips. Plutarch in his Life of Anthony wrote that Cleopatra's "beauty, as we are told, was in itself neither altogether incomparable, nor such as to strike those who saw her." And that the Queen's real attractiveness was her wit, charm and "sweetness in the tones of her voice."

5. Cleopatra was a Tricktress 

Cleopatra presented herself as a living goddess, the reincarnation of Isis.  She often used stagecraft and tricks to impress her people and potential allies. Cleopatra carefully planned every entrance, and used a great deal of magnificent decor, rich clothing and surprise elements to reinforce her divine status.

One of the greatest examples was when she arrived on a golden boat adorned with purple sails and rowed by oars made of silver. The Queen was made up to look like the Greek Goddess Aphrodite, and she sat beneath a gilded canopy while attendants dressed as beautiful cupids fanned her and burned sweet -smelling incense. Antony - who considered himself the embodiment of the Greek God Dionysus - was smitten.

Cleopatra in Films:

Did you know that Cleopatra is the most played female in the history of cinema? Over 50 actresses has played the role of the legendary Queen only in the movies, and much more depicted her in the theatre plays, advertisements and music videos.

Here are the most well-known film depictions of Cleopatra:

Cleopatra in films. All actress from silent movie to golden 40s and 50s. Vivien Leigh, Sophie Loren, Theda Bara and more
Все актрисы сыгравшие Клеопатру в фильмах. Элизабет Тейлор и другие. Liz Taylor and other actresses who played Cleopatra in movies.
Modern day Cleopatras. Film depictions. Actresses who played the queen of the Nile.