Tuesday, December 3, 2013

à la mode: Behind the Hedgerow

A spread I have been meaning to report on from Town & Country's 2013 September Issue is 'Behind the Hedgerow', which reminded me of one of my favorite movies directed by, Sofia Copppola, Marie Antoinette (2006). While the setting of the spread takes place in Kent, England at the Squerryes Court house, the beautiful greenery, and hedgerows are vaguely reminiscent of the maze of shrubs at Versailles in Paris. The movie, which was a visual feast, and earned  an Academy Award for Best Costume Design, has been a movie of which I have gained much sartirial inspiration and imagination from as of late for its ornate display of clothes. In my fashion, the movie, was simply a cinematic 18th century fashion show than it was about the the historics of that period of time in France; but, in my fashion, the thing that was said about Marie Antoinette and her costume, is that whether we are royalty or not, life is about being daring enough to push one's limits outside of the norm, and show that we are free to create a life for ourselves that is enjoyable for oneself, and titillating for onlookers. 

I found on YouTube a 2007 lecture from the University of Michigan by author, Caroline Weber, in which she discusses her book, 'Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution', which is an overview of the queen's excessive overdress and underdress, which contributed to her rise in political power, as well as her decline in public approval which led to her demise at the Guiotine. The Austrian-born Princess litrerally used fashion as a means to establish her own power at Versailles within the not so welcoming French society. Because of Antoinette's foreign roots, cultivating the French public's approval was difficult to gain because of her inablity to entice her husband to bed and produce an heir to the throne in the first 8 years of their union. According to Caroline Weber, Marie Anotinette was a renegade of fashion, and in my fashion she is a representation of the notion that fashion is not about following rules, it's about breaking them. More so than what she actually wore in the early part of her role as Queen, in my fashion, the French became entranced and attracted to Marie Antoinette for her valor in wearing what she wore. While it was typical of the Queens in the past to gain respect by being the bearer of children, keeping hiden behind the accomplishments of her husband, the King, Anotoinette's bold attempts to escape the constraints and conventions of the formal royal French court commanded respect in a more ostentatious manor by changing perceptions on what a Queen could look like. Her infinitely personalizable pouf gained her the most notoriety helping her to become the center of attention for the burgeoning fashion press, which our modern fashion media owes credit to her.


In my fashion, Marie Antoinette is perfect inspiration during this season of jewelry excess. In the royal French court, the protocol was that if you were a member of the royal family one had to look the part of a royal every minute of everyday of one's life. The idea behind it was that in order for the people to worship their King, and to recognize him as a supreme power, he needed to look more divine and more majestic than anybody else around him. This principal extended to his royal family, and every little detail of one's garb reflected one's position in the court's hierarchy. Stylist, Hannah Teare, did a fantastic job in the fashion story I feature here of depicting such a concept in modern terms. In my fashion, this is such a dreamy fashion spread that really accentuates the use of wearing opulent accessories to look of a majestic stature. Imagine walking down a busy street wearing look 5 or 9! I am sure there would be quite a few traffic jams as drivers would be awestruck by such a fanciful look. I am in love with the idea of elevating the everyday, and making life as exciting as possible, and I just wish people were more courageous in their fashionable expression to were a headpiece like that in look 4, or to go out walking the dog in a dress like that of look 2. I do realize that life does not call for us to have to wear such exaggerated looks on a daily basis, but being a person who does so, in my fashion, says to the world that you are a participant of what the times are about, and you encourage vivacious living. To me, dressing excessively is about promoting living life to the fullest despite the shortcomings and banality of everyday living.  As Helen Keller said, "Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."

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