The 2006 film, Marie Antoinette, depicting the rise and fall of one of France’s most infamous queens is not the most historically accurate portrayal of 18th century life at court, but part of what makes it so fantastical and engaging is that it captures the essence of the young queen’s life as an explosion of pastels and lace, highlighting the life of pleasure and decadence lived by those at the court of Louis XVI, in those last days of monarchy. As this year’s theme for the Met Gala was ‘About Time: Fashion and Duration’, Marie Antoinette’s modernized 18th century court style is an appropriate place to explore as it took inspiration from the past and the present to create the Academy Award winning costumes and design. The saccharine-sweet colour palate of the satin ball gowns and rococo style furniture look like a box of Ladurée macarons, showing off the indulgent lifestyle of Marie but also her youth and naivety, as she was only a teenager when she became queen of France. Costume designer, Milena Canonero, dressed each character like a delicious and slightly ridiculous pastel pastry, topped off with a pile of dusted white hair as a historical reference to the towering wigs that were sported in court. However, director Sofia Coppola juxtaposes this stream of indulgence with frequent wide shots of Marie stood alone in cavernous hallways, as if to say, no matter how big her hair was or outrageous her dresses were, this girl was still very much alone, giving the sweetness a bitter aftertaste. The light and frivolous world created by the costumes and the set feels artificial and empty, highlighting the fake friendships and isolating marriage Marie found herself trapped in. While beautiful to look at, the costume design hides a deeper meaning under the layers of lace and tulle, as the story of a young girl at the helm of one of the most powerful kingdoms in Europe unfolds into the historical tragedy that ended in her death.
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