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. Books

Books about Cleopatra. Книги о Клеопатре

You already know my love for literature, and that every week I post relevant to the chosen theme books. Today I wanted to give you a list of the best publications about Cleopatra, both fictional and history books. Let's start with the classics!

The Classics

1. 'Antony and Cleopatra' is a beautiful tragedy written by W. Shakespeare. It follows the romantic relationships between Cleopatra and Mark Antony up until their tragic deaths. The Shakespeare's play is an origin of belief that Cleopatra was bitten on her bare breast by an asp, even though classic sources say that the poison spread to her body from the bite on the arm. Regardless of the historical fact, the Shakespeare's vision of Cleopatra's death was quickly popularised by the artists and filmmakers.

2. 'Caesar and Cleopatra' is a play written by another famous playwright, George Bernard Shaw (you probably know him for the 'Pygmalion' play that was made into the film 'My Fair Lady'). However, this play is nowhere romantic and Shaw wrote it to prove that Cleopatra was not in love with Julius Caesar, but used him for political purposes. In his work the Roman occupation of ancient Egypt is a some sort of a symbol of the British occupation during his time.

Other Fiction Novels You Will Love

TOP PICK: Lets start with 'The Memoirs of Cleopatra' by Margaret George.

Best fiction about Cleopatra

Best fiction about Cleopatra

It is extremely fascinating read and I enjoyed reading it very much, imagining it was indeed Cleopatra's diary. The richly detailed saga tells us the story of the Egyptian queen in her own voice. I was highly immersed into Cleopatra's world, and even though the Margaret George's work is indeed very long (my edition came in two thick books), at the end I felt I had undergone an exciting journey with the Egyptian Queen, from her younger years till the last breath. The research Margaret did for the book is phenomenal, and I can guarantee that it is one of the best fictional novels about Cleopatra written to these days.

2. 'Antony and Cleopatra' by Colleen McCullough. 
I absolutely love how Colleen McCullough writes. Her knowledge of Roman history is very detailed and extensive, and all characters come alive when you read it. Antony and Cleopatra is a timeless tale of passion, politics and power.

3. 'When We Were Gods: A Novel of Cleopatra' by Colin Falconer.

Just For Fun: 

There are also bunch of very emm.. peculiar books about Cleopatra, where she... gets kicked out from Hell by Satan to our modern world, fights or make love with Egyptian Gods(!), vampires(!!), werewolves(!!!) and, of course, there is a bunch of soapy erotic stories featuring our favourite Egyptian Queen. 

The 'Cleopatra's Return' by Eve Langlais seems to be one of the brightest examples of such books as it contains almost all the above mentioned elements.

History and Coffee Table Books


Week 3: Cleopatra. Cleopatra in Art

Death Of Cleopatra  painting - Achilles Glisenti

Death Of Cleopatra painting - Achilles Glisenti

For centuries, the history and the myth of Cleopatra has been a great inspiration for artists all around the world. Cleopatra's praised beauty, seductive powers, love affairs with two most powerful men of her time and her tragic, but poetic death has been the theme in the works of generations of creative minds, including Shakespeare, Michelangelo and Salvador Dali.

It is important to note, that aesthetics and the canons of beauty undoubtedly change over time and place. Therefore, Reneissance's Cleopatra and Cleopatra depicted in the Gilded Age Era will be absolutely different, but at the same time the most striking for the audience of the time when the new image was created.

Busts of Cleopatra. Art

On following paintings, Cleopatra is depicted as a glorious, sometimes ruthless Queen in her prime years. She enjoys the romances with Caesar and Anthony, throwing fabulous feasts and lives a lavish life of the self-proclaimed Goddess.

Cleopatra Testing Poisons on Condemned Prisoners   by  Alexandre Cabanel   

Cleopatra Testing Poisons on Condemned Prisoners by Alexandre Cabanel

Cleopatra Before Caesar       by  Jean     Leon     Gerome

Cleopatra Before Caesar by Jean Leon Gerome

Cleopatra's Banquet   by  Gerard de Lairesse

Cleopatra's Banquet by Gerard de Lairesse

 Antony and Cleopatra   by   Lawrence Alma-Tadema

 Antony and Cleopatra by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

It is interesting that many artists disregard being historically accurate, and depict Cleopatra according to not only beauty standarts of their time, but also fashion styles. For example, on the works of Gerome, Cabanel and others, Cleopatra looks like an exotic oriental nymph. Lawrence Alma-Tadema, on the other hand, waived the oriental look in favour of more historically correct Hellenistic outfit.

It is interesting that many artists of Reneissance and 17th century were more likely to paint Cleopatra as a white skinned beauty with golden locks.

Cleopatra   by  Mose Bianchi

Cleopatra by Mose Bianchi

Cleopatra   by  John William Waterhouse

Cleopatra by John William Waterhouse

Cleopatra   by  Salvador Dali

Cleopatra by Salvador Dali

But after 19th century, artists started to give a preference to more exotic looking, darker Cleopatra.

The Death of Cleopatra

The death of Cleopatra has inspired more paintings than even her love life and glorious days of the reign. It is believed that Cleopatra has used an asp to kill herself as she did not want to be presented as an Augustus' trophy and be a part of his triumph.

It is documented that the Egyptian Queen has been bitten by a venomous snake in the hand, however Shakespeare in his Anthony and Cleopatra play, wrote that beautiful Cleopatra pressed a snake to her body and let it bite her breast. The sexualised version of Shakespeare has been enthusiastically taken by other creative artists, writers and filmmakers ever since.

The Death Of Cleopatra   by  German von Bohn

The Death Of Cleopatra by German von Bohn

Cleopatra's Last Moments   by  D. Pauvert   It was previously owned by  M  ichael Jackson

Cleopatra's Last Moments by D. Pauvert
It was previously owned by Michael Jackson

The Death of Cleopatra   by  Patra Arthur

The Death of Cleopatra by Patra Arthur

The Death of Cleopatra   by  Luca Ferrari

The Death of Cleopatra by Luca Ferrari

The Death of Cleopatra  , Painting by  John Maler

The Death of Cleopatra, Painting by John Maler

Two almost identical paintings of Cleopatra by Benedetto Gennari. One blonde and one brunette Egyptian Queen.

The Death of Cleopatra   by   Gyula Benczúr .    Probably one of the few paintings that depict Cleopatra as an old, suffering woman.   Majority of artists prefer to disregard the fact that Cleopatra was 40 at the time when she committed suicide.

The Death of Cleopatra by Gyula Benczúr.

Probably one of the few paintings that depict Cleopatra as an old, suffering woman. Majority of artists prefer to disregard the fact that Cleopatra was 40 at the time when she committed suicide.

Cleopatra   by  Rold Armstrong .  During Art Deco, artists exploited the story of Cleopatra and transformed her from an important historical figure to the coquette, lovely seductress and femme fatale of the Gilded Age, Only little symbols and exotic clothing help to identify this new Cleopatra.

Cleopatra by Rold Armstrong.

During Art Deco, artists exploited the story of Cleopatra and transformed her from an important historical figure to the coquette, lovely seductress and femme fatale of the Gilded Age, Only little symbols and exotic clothing help to identify this new Cleopatra.

Hope you enjoyed the selection of my favourite paintings and sculptures depicting the legendary Egyptian Queen. In the next post you will be able to see celebrities and models of our time channeling their inner Cleopatras on the red carpet and runways. Prepare for the golden fashion galore, and don't forget to check our daily updated Cleopatra Themed Shop.


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.

Week 2: War & Peace. Regency Era White Dress

Pastiche on Regency Era. War & Peace, Russian Regency, Jane Austen fashion inspired

I am very excited to share this 'Regency Era' inspired look with you. I found this beautiful white dress in Walter Baker's new Spring/Summer collection and immediately thought I could use it for the War & Peace Week. It is a perfect modern version of a classic Regency Era day dress you have seen so many times in Tolstoy's War & Peace screen adaptations and of course in all films based on Jane Austen's books.

The Regency Fashion Era (1800-1820s) was heavily influenced by the democratic ideals of the French Republic (French fashion was always à la mode in Europe), and drew inspiration from classical Greece and ancient Rome. Simplicity, purity and elegance were highly praised opposed to multiple layers, complicated styles and heavily decorated fabrics of preceding fashion era during Marie Antoinette's reign.

The most popular style was a high waisted, lightweight, 'columnal' shaped dress called the Empire dress. Inspired by magnificence of white Greco-Roman sculptures, clothes were primarily of the white colour. Pastel dresses and even bold colours later became fashionable in the Empire style as well.

It is interesting to note that despite the fact films often show the Regency Era heroines wearing dresses that reveal arms and bosom during the day time, historically it was proper only in the evenings!

Have a look at the inspiration board for this look, and let me know what do you think about my outfit and my 'Regency hairdo' I managed to create in two minutes.

THE REGENCy Era FASHION in art and films:

Regency Era Fashion in films and art. Sense and Sensibility, War and Peace. Emperial Style White Dress
Regency Era Hair in two minutes. Pastiche on Jane Austen, War & Peace, Regency Era female fashion, white dress and blue ribbon
White dress, lace summer, beauty Regency era inspiration, historical fashion, England, Russian, pastiche.today
beauty English Rose. Jane Austen blogger-actress modern Regency look fashion-history-outfit-white
White Regency Era inspired look
War & Peace inspired week on pastiche.today. Regency Era fashion blogger
Young actress, blogger playing the role of Natasha Rostova, white Regency era dress