Okay if you’d guys could be a good sport and time travel back with me to Friday, which was the Second of November. (Got the digital readout in the Doc’s DeLorean set correctly? Good.) It’s the afternoon, your blog hostess is brimming with ideas about this fabulous topic for m@’s birthday. Then, in a matter of seconds, this happened:
I know! There is no “easy flow chart” on pixlr.com. But you get the idea. The inexplicable shutting off of my brain is as unexplained as the whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa. Since it was such a nifty idea, I couldn’t just throw it away and wait for next year. So let’s go backwards to go forwards, shall we?
That’s right, it’s November 2 again! Okay, fine. Last Friday was the 2nd: the day our favorite queen was born in Vienna. She was Maria Teresa’s fifteenth child. The Empress was 38 and gave birth in an armchair. (Actually sounds like a good idea. Just Scotch-Guard first.) Although we know Marie Antoinette came into the world around 7:30 in the evening (see ‘Toinette Trivia #8 for more), little to nothing is mentioned about m@’s birthday celebrations.
Wondering how to celebrate Marie Antonia Josephina Johanna’s birthday in style? Fret not! We’ve devised a checklist on how go throw a colorful bash Sofia Coppola style.
Again, I have to thank the Fabulous Parisienne T for giving me this idea when I expressed to her how much I did not want to do a fact-laden, ho-hum, it’s-m@’s-birthday-here-I’ll-throw-some-facts-at-you post. Thanks again, dear!
What’s the first thing we learned from Sofia’s eye-candy film? Excess and fun is King! (Queen!) A la bonne hôtesse royale would never run out of champagne, Laudrée cakes or passed hos d’oeuvres…coronation or casual garden game of . Not only is a head-count key for your indulgence and inebriation, it keeps the unwanted types away. Nobody likes a party-crasher and if you’re putting in all the work, you shouldn’t have to invite anyone you can’t stand the sight of. Nobody needs the two-faced or a wet-blanket!
The French invented R.S.V.P. for a reason! Send ’em packing! More champagne for you!
Menu and Décor
Now that we’ve got that unpleasantness out of the way, it’s time for the fun stuff! So few would dare to put decorations and food under the same category but that’s the kind of insanity we serve here! No actually, there is a logic to it. This quote is direct from the pastry shop’s website:
“Ladurée’s pastel shades have always been inspired by the incomparable style of Queen Marie-Antoinette. It is for this key reason that the company was chosen as the exclusive “pastry-maker” for Sofia Coppola’s film about the Queen.”
In case you’ve never seen the movie and the art the Ladurée pastry house molds from butter and sugar, a closer look will certainly help you understand why Sofia Coppola said, “The Ladurée house provided macaroons and pastries each day. You were surrounded by small cakes all the time. The atmosphere of the film, the hues were also largely influenced by [Ladurée’s pastries].”
Allow the kaleidoscope of Ladurée pâtisserieses to lend their psychedelic complexion to the entire fete. I found a ridiculous amount of images with macaroons side-by-side with the shoes used in costuming. Before we get hooked on costuming, allow me to remind you once more. CHAMPAGNE: do not let it run out. [So wrong!]
FYI: The “birdbath” shaped glasses from which the hôtesse royale and her guests drink were not invented until the next century. Accurately they would have been drinking from flutes. The birdbath glasses spill more easily than a martini glass so…a word to the wise. Flutes hold more too. Yum yum.
Okay, aside from champagne and cakes that make you ponder if you’re really allowed to eat it or just look, with what else did Coppola’s birthday scene abound?
Candles, cigarettes, flowers, sparklers, decks of cards, dice and tons of gambling chips (if you can find pink, let me know where you got them). I’d definitely score some felt to protect the table as well as scoring authenticity points; good thing it’s a cheap fabric. Keep some extra decks of cards around so when that inevitable drink goes “timber” there’s a fresh deck waiting.
Marie Antoinette’s loved to gamble. Her favorite was a game called cavagnole: kind of a lottery played by shooting dice. I suppose if you can find a cavagnole board that would protect the table too.
One final thing for the checklist: the anachronistic fire extinguisher and/or thick military blanket. With all the feather-topped wigs sharing an inclosed space with candles, cigarettes and sparklers BE PREPARED. This is not the safest dinner party.
and for the love of god, don’t forget the cake!
That’s right, you heard me. Gads of museum-quality confectionery sculptures isn’t enough. If it truly is a birthday you need a BIG CAKE with more sparklers.
Where’s the fun of a birthday without the adrenaline rush of possibly catching part of your highly-flammable wardrobe on fire? Golly, those aren’t even sparklers pushed into the centers! They look more like Roman candles or M-80s…I can’t remember which. (The ones that light a bunch sound like a car backfiring but aren’t used for military purposes. I have two younger brothers, they’d know. Then they’d laugh at me for confusing the two.)
Case in point: make sure you have all of the above-mentioned items, including small cakes/macaroons and the big cake. Oh, did I mention champagne?
Primping and Wardrobe
Every hôtesse knows two truths to be self-evident. (1) Set up the party first. (2) It’s more fun to primp with a friend…as they inevitably end up lending you a hand with the prep work. Plus, depending on the wig you’ve purchased, you may need a second pair of hands quite badly. No, do not expect you friend to pumice your feet but DO pamper yourself so you look nice and relaxed for your Versailles levee. (Ouch! This is starting to sound like something for one of those women’s magazine’s like “Self” or “In Style.” Obvious statements around pictures.
I do highly recommend the wig with ostrich plume combo: it immediately sets the tone of the costume without complicating your life. Think you can pouf your own hair? Go to the official website for the film and read how tortuous each day in the chair was for Kirsten Dunst. Literal pain.
Watch again how the hues of the Laudrée cakes inspires the ladies’ ball gowns. Don’t get bogged down in historic perfection. Check out what the birthday girl/hôtesse royal wears. A white dress with a frambroise crinoline underskirt, ostrich plumes, a few in the same roseate shade, float above a towering pouf. One vibrant detail makes a simple dress.
Have fun “enforcing” the Dress Code
I know this SEEMS like a no-brainer but face it, decorating down to the last pink gambling chip and serving those chatoyant petit-fours and macaroons won’t do you any good if your Comte de Vergennes is wearing cargo shorts and your “bestie” Duchesse de Polignac shows in a mini-dress with a push-up bra. (Shudder.) I’ll be the first to admit, getting any guy into attire of the late 18th seems daunting but long sleeves and high-button vests won’t kill them. Yes, everyone owns a white button-down shirt at the very least. Grey baseball pants with (clean!) white knee socks hiked up and dress shoes should complete the illusion. Let’s remember this is low-lighting. Try to remind and encourage everybody how easy it is ahead of time. (Hallelujah, evite!) If you’re an aggressive party hostess like me, designate a sink for hair-prep. Wrap a sheet over ’em barber-style, slick their hair back with water and hit ’em with a healthy powdering of flour. Voilá! Will they fight you on it? Likely. Try giving them a healthy-sized shot (of hard liquor, not Demerol!) first then use the old peer-pressure “everyone’s doing it!” line. One good sport will get them all in line. And it may or may not start a flour-fight.
What would the fish wives have said?
p.s. Be prepared to look something like this tomorrow. (How I wish I had an enormous clawfoot bathtub!)
- History-Inspired Costuming? (tiarasandtrianon.wordpress.com)
- Can you tell Marie Antoinette and her sister apart? (tiarasandtrianon.wordpress.com)
- original court dress by Rose Bertin (tiarasandtrianon.wordpress.com)