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Monday, November 25, 2013

Marie Antoinette Would Wear This (Time Traveling Apron)

Nothing nicer than sewing and wearing a toile apron
Like Marie, I like to indulge in a few low-key,
agrarian pleasures - like visiting with local chickens-
 when I wear one.
You may also enjoy reading The Red Headed Chicken Apron

I'm so happy you followed up on my invitation for another time travel jaunt!

For this visit to past times, we need to visit the old merman fountain in the park down the street. They say that fountain came from the old Flood Estate, and Flood picked it up somewhere in Europe – somewhere in France perhaps? Anyway, It was an antique when he got it….

Maybe you can hop over the spouting turtle first and give me a hand up there on the top of this mer- fellows big tail. Oh yeah, that’s doing the trick. A nice way to travel, don’t you think ? and Versailles is lovely at this time of the year – quite roomy and so distant from that little trouble that’s been brewing out in the city. I’m sure the Parisian rabble is just a little confused about what’s really keeping them short of food. Surely it couldn’t have anything to do with the cost of keeping this place well planted and running smoothly.

If you’re a regular reader of this sewing journal or the Enchanted by Sewing Audio Podcast, you may have noticed that I’m intrigued by Marie Antoinette’s life and her wardrobe. I know she’s a hedonist and not exactly a woman of the people. I’m not saying I actually respect her, but her image as a fashion icon still has tremendous appeal.

Marie still attends public functions in the full splendor of big hair and those ultra wide skirted gowns she first donned as a young girl  when she arrived here in France to marry the future Louis Seize - when she had little choice about her garb. Like Cinderella going to the ball she’s a real presence moving along in the Versailles glide, that slithering walking style that’s de reguiere for the upper class,  clad in rustling silken sack back gowns. That Silk is produced in France, of course, and the nobilities requirements for ell upon ell of that home spun stuff, provide an important benefit to the economy. That gold Lyonnaise silk with the Roccoco chinoiserie pattern and the Berlin floss trimming that the queen is wearing today really catches the eye, non?

Of course I’m also hoping to get  in with the right people here, and score an invite offered to only a privileged few at one of her majesty’s little pied-a-terre , just down the alleyway here, at Le Petite Trianon. Does she go by her childhood name of Antonia in that little hideaway ,with her intimates, I wonder?  I find it totally chic that Marie has began to develop her own sense of style. In this relaxed setting - hanging out with a few tidy farmyard animals and her closest friends - she favors naturalistic Rousseau-inspired high waisted muslins dresses with wide ribbon sashes, and cute little decorative aprons. These gowns, about which there is a great deal of controversy (People say it looks she is going out in public in her undergarments!), will lead to a styles favored by a whole new generation of women . Unfortunately for the economy , and Marie’s reputation, that muslin is the product of her Austrian country of birth and not at all French. Two strikes against her majesty.

Despite daydreaming about recreating a luxurious sack back gown (in yellow silk perhaps? So practical for a bike ride to the park don’t you think?), or a sheer floating white muslin dress with a crimson sash – hum..... I might reinterpret that in a nightgown- The fashion that has actually most inspired my modern day fashion creations, is Marie Antoinette’s interest in promoting and popularizing the use of toile de Jouy fabric. I hear that the queen actually honored the business establishment, where this new fabric is produced, with a visit, and it’s now been proclaimed a “royal factory”.

The Jouy  (actually Jouy-en-Josas ) is, as you may already know, a place in France ten miles south of Paris. The toile part refers to the fabric popularized by Christophe Philippe Oberkampf who started a factory at Jouy to print cotton toile. Toile is, of course, a French word referring to cloth. (Linen cloth for example is toile de lin. )

Toile de Jouy is and will continue to be despite the trials and tribulations of revolution and war ,a heavy cotton fabric printed with scenes of an idyllic simple country life and stylized nature –  trees, simple vegetation, birds and other animals. The kind of romanticization that followers of Rousseau’s back to nature movement create for themselves, no matter how little connection there is between the realities of the agrarian scene and the pretty pictures on the fabric.

During Marie’s era, and for many in modern times, the ones I come from, toile is and was typically used for home dec items like pillows, bedspreads, curtains.

But, back in my own time, my favorite thing to sew up with this heavy weight, beautifully figured, story-telling fabric is an apron.

Sewing aprons, especially in toile, is the kind of thing that keeps me
Enchanted by Sewing!
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Resources*

I highly recommend the lovely, and informative, bookQueen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution. It's a great read about what Marie Antoinette actually did wear to masquerades , grand balls, or just toddling around Le Petit Trianon with the dear little daughter, she nicknamed Mousseline, a fun allusion to the fashions that Marie herself made popular at the time. 

Since I like to keep my iPad happy, I bought the Kindle version of Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution.
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* Thanks Sponsors! *
* Thanks so much, to readers who sponsor the work of this blog and the Enchanted by Sewing Podcast, by purchasing books, ebooks and other products through links in this blog.

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