Queen of Fashion by Caroline Weber
What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution

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Synopsis

In this dazzling new vision of the ever-fascinating queen, a dynamic young historian reveals how Marie Antoinette's bold attempts to reshape royal fashion changed the future of France





Marie Antoinette has always stood as an icon of supreme style, but surprisingly none of her biographers have paid sustained attention to her clothes. In Queen of Fashion, Caroline Weber shows how Marie Antoinette developed her reputation for fashionable excess, and explains through lively, illuminating new research the political controversies that her clothing provoked. Weber surveys Marie Antoinette's "Revolution in Dress," covering each phase of the queen's tumultuous life, beginning with the young girl, struggling to survive Versailles's rigid traditions of royal glamour (twelve-foot-wide hoopskirts, whalebone corsets that crushed her organs). As queen, Marie Antoinette used stunning, often extreme costumes to project an image of power and wage war against her enemies. Gradually, however, she began to lose her hold on the French when she started to adopt "unqueenly" outfits (the provocative chemise) that, surprisingly, would be adopted by the revolutionaries who executed her.



Weber's queen is sublime, human, and surprising: a sometimes courageous monarch unwilling to allow others to determine her destiny. The paradox of her tragic story, according to Weber, is that fashion--the vehicle she used to secure her triumphs--was also the means of her undoing. Weber's book is not only a stylish and original addition to Marie Antoinette scholarship, but also a moving, revelatory reinterpretation of one of history's most controversial figures.


 

About Caroline Weber

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Caroline Weber is associate professor of French at Barnard College, Columbia University. A specialist of eighteenth-century French literature, culture, and history, she has also taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University. Her other publications include Terror and Its Discontents, a well-received and widely taught book on the Reign of Terror; an edited volume of Yale French Studies; and numerous academic articles. She lives with her husband in New York City.
 
Published October 2, 2007 by Henry Holt and Co.. 432 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Arts & Photography, Travel, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Queen of Fashion

Kirkus Reviews

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Second, the story of the young queen’s rise and fall is so engrossing that Weber sometimes finds it hard to turn our attention away from history’s explosions to look at her subject’s latest ridiculous pouf or silk-and-satin extravagance.

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The Guardian

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Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber 413pp, Aurum, £18.99 The only arresting portrait is reproduced in monochrome among the text, and it's hard to guess the subject's identity.

Feb 10 2007 | Read Full Review of Queen of Fashion: What Marie ...

Publishers Weekly

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As this prodigiously researched, deliciously detailed study (perfectly timed for the fall release of Sofia Coppola's movie) of the doomed royal's fashion statements demonstrates, her masculine equestrian garb, ostentatious costumes for masked balls, high Parisian hairdos and faux country-girl gea...

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Book Reporter

One such person is Caroline Weber, a French professor teaching at Barnard College, Columbia University who has written a fascinating biography of Marie Antoinette titled QUEEN OF FASHION.

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Queen of Fashion: What Marie ...

Entertainment Weekly

In her thrilling frock-by-frock account, which coincides with Sofia Coppola's biopic confection starring Kirsten Dunst, she concludes that ''Marie Antoinette helped invent fashion as a high-stakes political game — one that she played in dead earnest, and with deadly results.'' And while the book...

Sep 20 2006 | Read Full Review of Queen of Fashion: What Marie ...

Huffington Post

Though I have not previously studied dress forms in depth, I have been mistaken for a mannequin (I spaced out in a flu-induced frozen position while waiting for a friend when another customer hilariously reached out to inspect my garment), and I'm also drawn to the creepiness I think is inherent ...

Apr 26 2010 | Read Full Review of Queen of Fashion: What Marie ...

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