original court dress by Rose Bertin

original court dress by Rose Bertin

the famous “Marie Antoinette dress” at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada.

It is labelled “attributed to Rose Bertin.” (Antoinettophiles you know why she’s a bfd, right?) They probably couldn’t find enough documentation to prove it belonged to Marie Antoinette for a museum’s standards. That makes sense to me as well, because I’d always read the Queen’s clothes were ransacked by the blood-thirsty mobs. (It’s so cliché but the French Revolution was one of those pivotal cases where “blood thirsty” became synonymous with “mob”.)

If it is hers, they certainly got it out in wonderful shape. The ivory silk bodice looks strangely unadorned compared to the detailed embroidery on the skirt and train. The skirt has also been altered to fit over a 19th century crinoline underskirt, implying that the dress had another wearer between M@ and the mannequin in Ontario.

They always tell you that “people were shorter back then” but whenever I see old-timey clothing I am still struck by the shape of the person suggested by the silhouette. Were people proportioned differently back then too? Or were the clothes cut differently?  And why do the same people who were shorter back then look so tall in paintings? Were trees shorter too?

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About ♔ la dauphiine ♔

Connecticut-based jewelry monger, history buff, Mets fan. On the hum-drum side, call me a lauded poet, novelist and ghost-writer. (That's right, I haunt prose.)
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12 Responses to original court dress by Rose Bertin

  1. Thanks for featuring THE dress! It’s a looker, eh?! Rose was a genius! I just checked out the museum’s website. There’s an interesting podcast about the dress. I’m sure you’ve seen it. Here’s the link: http://www.rom.on.ca/media/podcasts/display.php?id=73 (I’d love to see it in person at the Royal Ontario Museum some day. I think the Bata Shoe Museum is just around the corner. The perfect day tour!! T.)

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    • I finally got to watch the podcast! Thank you so much for sending the link. (No I hadn’t seen it before but I’m please to see that much of my extrapolation was correct!) I love the part where they call Rose the founder of haute couture and say how she excelled at making everyone look good. Genius indeed!

      The dress looks even better on video, huh? I’m glad you enjoyed “THE dress” as much as I did. I found that amusing as well.

      (Shoe museum, huh? Any famous heels in there?)

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  2. Lovely dress~

    “people were shorter back then”

    I’ve heard that too. Regarding “And why do the same people who were shorter back then look so tall in paintings?”

    I think they had better posture than us (stays, corsets). They didn’t stoop over computers and slouch in front of the TV (it was a full time job just staying alive 😉 ) I recall reading somewhere that even 18th century children wore stays at a young age.

    I imagine the lower class people though.Think: Backbreaking work. But then it’s a rarity to come across painting of the working class person who couldn’t afford to have it done. A seamstress must’ve spent a lot of time stooped over.

    Oops, I’m rambling. Sorry!

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    • Never apologize for rambling! Not on this blog! Here we ramble with pride! (I try to reel it in…don’t know how successful I am at it. :P)

      but YES you are right, children in France (boys and girls) wore corsets for posture’s sake–at the peril of their organs, I’m afraid–only the girls had to “stay with it” after a certain age. (welcome to Bad Pun Friday!) I’m not sure about the corseting of boy children in other countries.

      Now I’m curious to try sewing, typing etc., wearing a corset. Step 1: Sew a corset & wreck posture further?

      Now I’M rambling…

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