Thursday, February 8, 2018

Book Review: Fashion and Versailles

Author: Laurence Benam
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Flammarion

The Château de Versailles—the indisputable birthplace of fashion—continues to inspire glamour and style today.

The royal residence of Versailles—this unparalleled seat of power and seduction—is an important influence on contemporary fashion, inspiring passions and vocations. Since the establishment of the world’s first dress codes under the rule of Louis XIV to incite the whims of the queens and royal mistresses, fashion at Versailles has been a constant and inexhaustible source of inspiration for designers, photographers, decorators, and directors and has launched countless fashion revolutions.

Courtesan Madame de Montespan launched the “innocente” robe to camouflage pregnancy, Sofia Coppola memorialized Marie-Antoinette in extravagant wigs and pastel hues, and Annie Leibovitz captured Kirsten Dunst in a delicate taffeta-and-chiffon Alexander McQueen gown against the dramatic backdrop of a peristyle at Versailles. Haute couture in the 1950s launched the cinched-waist “neo-trianon” trend. Karl Lagerfeld used the château’s gardens as the runway for his 2013 cruise collection featuring Versailles-influenced crinoline dresses and brocade jackets.

This stunning volume showcases the best of fashion inspired by Versailles, set against the exquisite background of the most spectacular palace in the world.

Everything about this book was utterly breathtaking. I took my times perusing through the elusive pages and scanning over the flawless fashions. This was a history lesson in disguise as I learned so much about the various fashions that swept through Versailles in the times of Kings and Queens past. The writing is extremely detailed and weaves perfectly past into present fashions, being sure to highlight and discuss well-known members of the fashion world.

Several images adorn the pages that give readers an insight into all aspects of Versailles including the fashions, the jewels, the decorations, interiors, and even famous artwork. Towards the end of the book, modern fashion designers like Yves Saint Laurent and fashion trends like taffeta dresses are discussed in great detail. I enjoyed reading about the evolving fashions trends and seeing where they all came from. 

“While it might have lost its symbolic value for us, ornament remains an integral part of a dress, not a superfluous addition. Hence a thick wool suit will have delicate buttons, and a fabric as light as tulle will be encrusted with embroidery in gold or silver thread and beads.”

“That France should be great and happy; this is all that we require.”

“The costumes were elegant but simple. The men wore formal frock coats and danced while wearing their feathered hats, an excessively noble and graceful custom that I have seen practiced only at the French court.”

“Even the French court, the most brilliant and the most copied in the world, did not hesitate to go into debt in order to remain at the height of its fascination, which was universal in its power.”

If you are a lover of fashion, history, or the lure and luxury of Versailles, then I suggest you pick up a copy of this book. The book in itself is beautiful and the pages are heavy and made of the best quality. This book is going to make a great addition to my large bookshelves. You will be mesmerized by the depth of information that fills these pages; this is a book that you will want to take your time with and really sit down and spend time immersed in the knowledge, history, and beauty of fashions from past and present.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Flammarion in exchange for my honest review***

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