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 Face powdering? 
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Post Face powdering?
Why did women like Marie Antoinette powder thier faces?


Sat Jan 20, 2007 2:46 am
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I think it was fashion, that everyone (especially women) was pale. They tried to hide bad skin also.

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Sat Jan 20, 2007 6:09 am
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Powdering seems to have had two purposes: keeping the skin white (even make it appear whiter) and in some cases, hide blemishes.
Having a very white skin was indeed fashionable. The association of tan and beauty is very recent. During most of european history, fashionable women (and men) had to have a pale skin. At the time, whiteness was associated with belonging to the nobility whilst a tanned complexion was associated with belonging to the lower classes who had to work, in many cases outside, exposed to the sun.
As for hiding blemishes, you mentionned bad skin: at a time when there were very little preventive measures against infections, a lot of people were catching diseases that left them with a wrecked skin. One of the well spread disfiguring diseases of the time is smallpox.
In that social context, fashion for a very heavy unnatural looking makeup developed and reached its pinacle under Louis XV with the well known "rouge" (large painted red circles on very white cheeks). Marie Antoinette introduced a more natural look. Well, more natural for those days ;) One of her defining fashion gestures was to kill the ridiculous "rouge". And what a great idea that was!!!

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Sat Jan 20, 2007 2:22 pm
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I read that the fact that Marie Antoinette wore makeup was scandalous because only prositutes used to wear makeup...is this true?


Sun Jan 21, 2007 11:11 pm
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I've never read anything about Marie Antoinette causing scandal by wearing makeup. That said, MA's name was often linked to scandalous sexual libels and she was described as some sort of prostitute by gazette writers giving her a totally inaccurate reputation;maybe a gazeteer once compared her makeup to that of a prostitute? Poor Marie Antoinette was the victim of such a hate campaign that I wouldn't be surprised if someone wrote something like that :twisted:
Cecilie, if you can remember where you read about it, please let me know :)

Anyway, whether anybody did or did not use makeup as one more weapon in the general venom written against the Queen, the fact is that prostitutes certainly were not the only women wearing makeupin the 18th century. The nobility used makeup regularly. At some point the whole court at Versailles wore makeup - women and men!
...and, there, I would be inclined to believe that if MA shocked by wearing makeup, it was by wearing less than the previous generation :wink:

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Mon Jan 22, 2007 12:27 am
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It was court etiquette for men and women to wear rouge on their lips and cheeks. To be without rouge and powder was considered loose and radical....

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Mon Jan 22, 2007 12:39 am
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~*Cecillie*~ wrote:
I read that the fact that Marie Antoinette wore makeup was scandalous because only prositutes used to wear makeup...is this true?

I don't know about that era, but in the Victorian era only prostitutes wore make-up and upper-class wore almost nothing.

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Mon Jan 22, 2007 7:06 am
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Victorian times radically change our point of view about many things, such as sex, pleasure, make-up, fashion, pudor... We must always take that into account while getting back in time !

People, courtiers as well as common people, were far more open in XVIIIth century that they would later. For instance, all these questions about Louis and Antoinette's marriage, openly. This would never happen a century later.

XVIIIth century was far less prudish. Victorian values had not yet destroyed "la douceur de vivre"... fortunately !

Everybody wore make up at court, it was a fashion and, as Therese said, a social code. Even for men. They had to put "rouge" on their cheeks, that represented "emotion" and "confusion", a codified way to express their humility in front of royals.

Aristocrats even had this strange habit to mark their veins with blue, so that their "blue blood" became obvious.

This fashions common people and middle classes copy the best they could, so that many people wore exquisite clothes and enchanting perfumes and incredible make up and hairdoes.

Marquise de Merteuil truly noticed that Marie Antoinette and her friends got back to a more natural way. The queen peculiarly enjoyed flowers fragrances instead of too havy musk, had her hair cut "à l'enfant", wore cotton ample shirts rather than silk heavy court dresses and abandoned too coloured make up.

However, till the very end, she kept little boxes, that were found back in her cell of the conciergerie. She still used scented powder for her hair and "rouge" on her cheeks. Queen in representation till the very last day !

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Mon Jan 22, 2007 9:21 am
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Pimprenelle wrote:
Victorian times radically change our point of view about many things, such as sex, pleasure, make-up, fashion, pudor... We must always take that into account while getting back in time !

People, courtiers as well as common people, were far more open in XVIIIth century that they would later. For instance, all these questions about Louis and Antoinette's marriage, openly. This would never happen a century later.

I agree Pimprenelle! They changed our views a lot.
Yeah, they were more open with these things, like Louis and Marie's problems in the bedroom.

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Mon Jan 22, 2007 10:59 am
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Yes, Pimprenelle! Also, in the days of the ancien-regime, men wore lace, which they never did again after the 18th cent and the revolution.

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Mon Jan 22, 2007 12:07 pm
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I was surprised by the low cut bodices of the dresses. I suppose this changed after the revolution, as well?


Mon Jan 22, 2007 4:11 pm
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Yes, bodices were cut much higher during the Restoration, under the influence of Marie-Antoinette's daughter, the Duchesse d'Angouleme. They got low again later in the 19th century, for ball gowns. Even in Marie-Antoinette's time, a fichu or scarf of lace or fine linen would cover the bosom in the mornings, but would be removed in the late afternoon to display the cleavage. The bosom remaining covered in the mornings continued to be the practice until the early 20th century. As Mammy said to Scarlett, "A lady never uncovers her bosom before noon!"

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Mon Jan 22, 2007 4:46 pm
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:lol: !!


Mon Jan 22, 2007 7:53 pm
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I think that MA looked beutifal in any of the dress' that she wore!


Mon Jan 22, 2007 9:24 pm
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exactly bluemarie12493 exactly! :D

It is like that we recognize the women who have charm :wink:
Marie-Antoinette was impressive with very complicated and varied dresses, but also with simple dresses like the dresses “en Gaulle”.

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