Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber

Posted by Rebecca Brendel

Reviewed by: Becky Brendel

What I Read: Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber

Find It @YCLD: Here!

What It's About: Part history of fashion and part biography, this book traces records of Marie Antoinette's clothing from her childhood in Austria up to her execution in the French Revolution. Although the ill-fated Queen of France is usually remembered as a spendthrift, frivolous woman, Weber argues that Marie Antoinette attempted to carve out a sphere of power for herself by setting fashion trends - even inspiring those who sought her downfall.

What I Thought:  This book started heavy-handed but quickly fascinated me. Weber's attempts to "prove" her unprovable thesis - we can't know for certain what a historical figure had thought or intended - sometimes seem far-fetched, yet she's also an excellent storyteller, with both an eye for detail and the ability to weave those details into a story without veering off on tangents. She also includes plenty of historical context, immersing the reader in a society where the clothes really did make the man (or woman, as the case may be). This book is highly recommended to anyone who likes clothes, is interested in new approaches to familiar history, or just wants to see a picture of a woman wearing a miniature ship on her head.

Readalikes: The Warrior Queens by Antonia Fraser, for more history from a woman's perspective; Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran, for this same period (and focus) retold as a novel.

Or look this book up on NoveList!