Queen Of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore To The Revolution
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Queen Of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore To The Revolution

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  1,657 ratings  ·  164 reviews
A "Washington Post Book World" Best Book of the Year
When her carriage first crossed over from her native Austria into France, fourteen-year-old Marie Antoinette was taken out, stripped naked before an entourage, and dressed in French attire to please the court of her new king. For a short while, the young girl played the part.
But by the time she took the throne, everythi...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published by Aurum Press (first published September 19th 2006)
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Luci
This book should definitely be read after one reads Antonia Fraser's "Marie Antoniette: A Journey." This is not a definitive biography, nor does it claim to be. However, it looks at the ill-fated queen in a unique and textual way- through the clothing choices she made at every juncture in her tenure as Dauphine, and later Queen of France.

Weber analyzes everything from color to fabric, hair to corsets in this impeccably researched work. She makes the reader conscious of the UNCONSCIOUS messages w...more
Emily
The title of Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution is somewhat misleading, because this book isn't about fashion in the narrow sense of clothing. There are descriptions of Marie Antoinette's luxurious outfits and of the styles she promoted (like the Rousseauesque country muslin dress, the gaulle). But the author discusses a whole range of courtly styles and habits and shows how Marie Antoinette attempted to assert her individuality in this constrained sphere that was all...more
Heather
While this book is not perfect, it points out that clothing is a method of communication which greatly affects human interaction. Even today, in a less charged atmosphere than the French court, what we choose to wear (or not wear) says a lot about our social, economic, political and religious affiliations.

I feel that a lot of the book was a stretch--the brand-new Dauphine notices a tapestry of Jason and Medea, calls it a "bad omen" for a wedding, and we assume that it plants in her mind the ide...more
Katie
What makes a successful queen? Where is the line between majesty and excess? And how did Marie Antoinette go from being a beautiful and loved dauphine to an object of intense popular hatred? Queen of Fashion doesn't answer any of these questions, but it provides substantial food for thought on all of them. Mostly very satisfying, except for the dearth of illustrations. Her clothing didn't survive the Revolution, so I don't expect photos, but the fashions of the time were illustrated by dressmake...more
Scarlettfish
I don't think anything could get better than this. An analysis of Marie Antoinette's life through her spectacular clothing. Weber explains how what Marie wore could function as a social and political statement, and the dresses and descriptions of the gorgeous gowns are clothes porn at its very finest.
Rachel Smalter Hall
From the masculine equestrian outfits that made her Louis XV's favorite, to the regal counterrevolutionary gowns in green and violet that exposed her as an enemy of the state, Marie Antoinette's fashion statements were always unfailingly both fabulous and controversial. In Queen of Fashion, Caroline Weber paints a comprehensive portrait of the fashion icon, from Dauphine until death. Weber is not only a brainy Barnard scholar, but also a fashion connoisseur herself, and her fastidiously research...more
Jennifer
This is the book that spurred me on to reading biographies again. The premise for this book is that Maria Antoinette did not have a lot of power--certainly not the kind-of power she might have expected to have given her mother. She was also limited in the ways she could express herself. So, Marie Antoinette turned to fashion as a way to express her views and to influence her husband.

I loved that this biography had a strong character arc and how real the characters and the setting felt.
Kathryn
Don't be put off by the seemingly frivolous title: this is a superb, academic (almost 100 pages of endnotes and a long bibliography) yet highly readable account of Marie Antoinette and her life at Versailles, full of insight and fascinating detail. I loved it and am now reading it for the second time.
Alex
Killer read! The story of the Queen's life and the revolution told through fashion. The concept may sound like a stretch, but given that clothing at the time was massivley important in showcasing one's status in society, it proves to be a wonderful new language with which this familiar story can be told.
Carole Rae
This is probably the 5th times I've read this novel. I received this book as a gift for my sweet 16th birthday (the theme was masquerade/costumes, which I went as Marie Antoinette). One of my good friends got this book for me. When I got it, I wanted to go home and read it right then and there. However, I restrained myself.

I decided to re-read it once more, because I can't get enough of Caroline Weber's amazing writing style and depth into the world of fashion of that time period. She does a wo...more
MichelleCH
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Caroline
In all honesty, I'm very critical of biographies, perhaps more so than I should be. The fact is that I'm sick of reading everything in the same style, with the same approach. Unfortunately, there are reasons why the study of history is given a bad rap, and dull biographies is one of them. Luckily, "Queen of Fashion" is not at all dull, and not at all boring. It's a biography with a unique spin--almost more of a thesis, approaching Marie Antoinette's life through the lens of fashion--and the conc...more
Jesi Brubaker
I enjoyed this book, even though it was my second bio on Marie Antoinette. The only thing I disliked about this book is that it was more of a bio, it would have been nice if she focused on MA's clothing, and then compared/contrast that with the fashion of the day. Basically what I'm trying to say is, a little less bio and more fashion! And it's hard to read bio's where the main character is beheaded. Even though Marie Antoinette wasn't a saint she did not deserve the horrid punishment nor the di...more
Amanda
The life and history of Marie Antoinette, but with a focus on how clothing/fashion shaped her life and the perception of her life. I have read other biographies of MA, as well as books about the French revolutionary period, but never one that explicitly focused her fashion/appearance. Given the extensive critiques of her manner of dress (positive and negative)available in contemporary sources, the author did not have to reach to make connections between the way the Queen chose to present herself...more
Stephen Cadywold
Born in the right place at the wrong time the poor girl couldn't win either way. It's not difficult to comprehend why a teenager would want to rebel against the rigid etiquette and court ritual of Versailles and, like many a rebellious teenager, use fashion to do so. This is a balanced and fascinating account of how Marie Antoinette's fashion statements allowed her to create her own identity and compensated for 7 years of unconsummated marriage and the futile existence of a queen of France. Alth...more
Shannon Lee
Though it doesn't stand on it's own as a comprehensive biography (many important revolutionary events - including the queen's own execution - are given short shrift) it succeeds as a supplemental text to traditional literature on the revolution. A fresh and thoroughly researched take on the impact of Marie Antoinette's wardrobe. In typical American fashion, Weber portrays the queen as a sympathetic figure; an unassuming victim of the revolution who could do no right. Yet Weber's research seems t...more
Nancy
An engaging look at the way clothes can convey a political message. I don't know if the doomed queen actually thought about what she was doing with her sartorial choices, or if it was highly unconscious, but her clothes did convey a message and did spark endless interest and ultimately savage disapproval. One cannot help but be moved by Marie Antoinette's story. She became the scapegoat for all that was wrong at the time and she bore her terrible ending with a dignity that, hate her or love her,...more
Adrienne
Very well-written, engaging and moving. Not sure if it was meant to make the reader more sympathetic to Marie Antoinette's plight. Even if she was misguided and misunderstood rather than just outright evil, MA comes off as shallow, selfish and oblivious--exactly what the revolutionaries accused her of being. Also, I don't really think Weber proves the point that MA used her fashion choices to try and control her destiny; I think most people would agree that she ended up being condemned by them.
Shannon
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ariane
Queen of Fashion is excellent! I've been obsessed with it since first opening its pages Monday evening, completely captured by its combination of fine, well-researched writing with a subject matter I adore. I only wished for more color plates, for a whole assembled Pinterest board of images to peruse while reading, for more to dazzle my eye as well as my imagination. If you're interested in Marie Antoinette, in the French Revolution, in clothing, this is a MUST read.
Page Wench
Apr 08, 2013 Page Wench rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Antoinette fans, French Revolution buffs, clothing designers
Shelves: history, france, biography
Interesting approach to the subject of Marie Antoinette and well executed (no pun intended). I've read several books regarding the French Revolution and other biographies of Antoinette and found this added details that filled in the gaps of the broader stroke texts. This was obviously well-researched but Weber writes in an easy manner rather than a stuffy professorial tone. Highly recommended!
Izzy
Argues that Marie Antionette's wardrobe determined the course of French history -- an argument that's not only interesting, but just cool. Oddly, as the story moved closer and closer to her beheading, I got less interested, I think because the thesis got a bit repetitive (yes, we get it, her mauve frock AND her white hat both changed history). But it's definitely worth a look.
Beth
I am finally reading this book in it's entirety after assigning chapters to my students. Delightful reading and excellent research. I especially like how the author recognizes the importance of personal recollections published during the Second Empire while also contextulaizing these texts in terms of Parisan society and politics during the reign of NapIII and Eugenie.
Maddog
I really enjoyed this book. Well-researched but not at all dry, it tells the story of Marie Antoinette's life in France through her clothes and how her style changed as a reaction to the things happening around her. Made me think a lot about clothes and politics and culture and how they are related.
Laura
This book looks at the Marie Antoinette's life and politics through the lens of fashion, and shows how she deliberately manipulated her image to participate in politics, and further, how others used fashion politically in the Revolution. Extremely well done.
Sydnee
It would have been an interesting paper for an academic journal but I don't think the premise justified an entire book and certainly not one that was over 400 pages long. It became redundant and tiresome to read.
Nora
This contained more details about the royal family's escape, incarceration and last days than other books I've read. I think it's well researched and, although an odd premise, the author makes her point.
Keri
May 04, 2007 Keri rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fashion dorks
This is the book that Sophia Copolla's movie is based on. The author's research was very complete. It's an interesting book even if you're not that into fashion.
Elizabeth
An in-depth analysis of the French culture viewed through the fashion choices of M.A, combined with a narrative biography. Well-written and informative.
Liz
What a fascinating book! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Ms. Weber examines every part of Marie Antoinette's wardrobe and how she used clothing to express herself in a time and place where woman were certainly considered second class citizens; even a Queen. The book starts with Marie Antoinette's marriage to the Dauphin of France, the future Louis XVI, and ends with her being taken to the guillotine. I never knew she was married at 14 and had to grow up in the French court. Her fashion statements were...more
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