I’ve been totally obsessed with 18th century France since I visited Versailles last month! And I’ve been feeding that obsession by reading the new book Versailles: The Biography of a Palace by Tony Spawforth. (I also wanted to buy another new book, Marie Antoinette and the Last Garden of Versailles, but I have been strictly warned by my family that I am not to buy any object on my Christmas gift wishlist!) And I’ve been shopping for fabric and trim for next summer’s Beau Monde Soiree costume. It’s just a total Marie Antoinette moment around here. And then I heard about this fabulous exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum. They are displaying one the few extant gowns that belonged to Marie Antoinette!!! It’s very delicate and can only be displayed for a short time, but they’ve extended the exhibit to November 16. If you live near there at all, go go go, and send me info! (In the meantime, the website’s podcast about the gown is very interesting, but not nearly long enough)

It seems the gown was given to a lady-in-waiting and eventually taken to England (probably when that lady or her family fled the Revolution). It was re-cut during the 19th century, and the (fabulous, I’m sure) stomacher was lost. But it’s easy to picture how it must have looked when the Queen ordered it from Rose Bertin. It’s amazing.

I also found this picture of an exhibit in France (the shoes and garters are Marie Antoinette’s; the baby bonnet belonged to her daughter Marie Therese, Madame Royale).

And this is a fragment of one of the Queen’s petticoats in the Museum of London (given as mourning mementos to emigres in London after her death)

And this little goat carriage belonging to the royal children, displayed at the Petit Trianon

More Petit Trianon pictures!

So, I need some help putting together this costume for next summer. My living room is littered with swatches and bits of trim, not to mention “inspiration images” like the ones above! What color (pink, blue, silver, lavender? All of the above?) Trim (lace, tassles, fringe, flowers)? Shoes? Jewels?

And who are some of your historical inspirations? If you were going to a costume ball, what would your costume be (if you had to be either a historical figure or a character in a book?)