your blog hostess’ brains turn to oatmeal
Who wants to take a fun jaunt 11 days back in time with Your Blog Hostess. (Got the digital readout in the Doc’s DeLorean set correctly? Good.) ta-freaking-dah! And here we are! *Ahem, you should be more impressed* Marie Antoinette’s Birthday means I get to use one of my all-time favorite posts, tweaked with some new revelations, naturally.
But look at eleven-days-ago me! Once again that mysterious fog that turns my brains into oatmeal–sometimes grits–blew in across the Pacific and, in a matter of seconds, this happened:
That’s right, it’s November 2 again! Okay, fine. Last Saturday 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.
but how should I commemorate this event?
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.
As this is second annual airing of this post, We’ve brought you more petit four-sized tidbits on the two keys necessary to m@ the s*** out of your party: gambling and the most celestial of pastries. [Things that sparkle and flame ran a close second.]
What’s the first thing we learned from Sofia’s eye-candy film? Excess and fun is King! (Queen!) La bonne hôtesse royale would never run out of champagne, Laudrée cakes or passed hos d’oeuvres…coronation or casual garden game of Chemine de fer. 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 Two-Faced or 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:
“’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 nor the Ladurée Pastry House’s art sculpted 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 many a curious image: macaroons nestled side-by-side with those 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!]
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 (pink) 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.
Feeling overwhelmed by the color-scheme. Look to the cookie! (Didn’t think I could work a ‘Seinfeld’ quote in, eh?) It worked for Sofia. Still feeling color-blind? You’re in luck. This nifty M@ reference color swatch can help you avoid a gauche eyesore.
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.
Obviously, decks of playing cards and chips necessitate card games with wagers that grow more that you should later beg your went-to-bed-early husband to pay off.Though cavignole was Marie Antoinette’s favorite, when she chose cards over dice, Chemine de fer (an early form of Baccarat) and Écarté (very similar to Whist) were her favorites. If you’ve bucked the odds and actually have a friend who not only owns that weird double-hinged wooden spatula and know how to use them like enormous salad tongs along with a soul so enlightened as to have an inkling of Baccarat at all, then go for it. (Nobody wants to drink champagne & read esoteric directions. The card game Chemine de fer does require at least six decks of cards, between that and spilled champagne maybe you should buy in bulk.
Did I mention champagne?
As seen above, Coppola’s film was rife with coupé wine glasses. Sure go ahead and try the waterfall over a precarious coupé glass pyramid. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…it’s a HUGE waste of the bubbly. Oh yeah, and the glasses could fall too. Somewhere along the line Your Blog Hostess made the erroneous declaration that the coupe glass hadn’t been invented yet, calling all of those bubbly-swilling scenes an anachronism. Well, We’re not too full of ourselves to admit we were wrong. The champagne flute was not invented until 1750, so drink to your heart’s content from those mini-bird baths!
Of course there’s that historic malarkey about the coupe glass being shaped after an exact mold of Marie Antoinette’s breasts. The coupe glass was invented in 1633 in England, making this hogwash both chronologically and geographically inaccurate. But the act of obliging Versailles to drink from your breast just sounds soooo du Barry.
Champagne was always an aristocratic beverage and the vessel used was indicative of status in the late Eighteenth. Only the nobility drank from the coupe. The clergy drank their cava from Bordeaux glasses, while the 3rd Estate drank from the simplest of wine glasses or whatever was concave enough to hold liquid. (I doubt this Internet factoid as well. Why would someone too poor to afford a glass–or bread!–be drinking Champagne? Never trust the Internet, unless it’s Tiaras and Trianon!)
In the name of the fête, feel free to implement this wine-glass caste system. God forbid duBarry or las Medames Tantes crash your fête, you can still take ’em down a peg by denying them proper stemware. Give those gossipy aunts a chipped coffee mug; duBarry will do just fine with a Yahtzee shaker. (Heee! Imagine the look on her face! Feathers will be ruffled!)
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)
- the best in marie antoinette shopping: salt and pepper shakers (tiarasandtrianon.com)