Queen Consort Marie Antoinette
On April 29, 2011, Westminster Abbey will be the setting for the most anticipated wedding of the year — the Royal Wedding of His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales and Kate (Catherine) Middleton. To honor the event, author C.M. (Catherine) Rubin and designer Theresa Blake have joined forces to bring you a series of stories which focus on wedding dresses worn by famous Royal Princesses and Queens over the centuries that continue to inspire wedding dress designers and brides to this day. Who knows? Perhaps one of these historic royal gowns has already inspired the best kept secret for April 29, 2011 — what will Princess-to-be Kate Middleton be wearing?
QUEEN CONSORT MARIE ANTOINETTE - 18th Century Queens by C. M. Rubin and Theresa Blake
Marie Antoinette (1755-1793) was born in Austria to Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor, and his Austrian Empress, Maria Theresa. She has been called France’s unhappiest queen. She was married off by her mother at age 14 to Louis XVI with the hope that this union might further Austria’s interest in France. Young Marie was poorly educated and unprepared for the dynastic political intrigues that followed. Prudish by nature, she became thoroughly embarrassed by her husband’s widely known failure to have sexual intercourse for several years. Despite this setback, Marie Antoinette still managed to give birth to a daughter, in 1778, and sons in 1781 and 1785. She was a devoted mother. She was also perceived as frivolous and extravagant, with a habit of spending lavishly on fashionable clothes and palaces.
After the Bastille was stormed on July 14, 1789, the queen urged her husband to resist the rebels’ reforms, making her very unpopular and leading to the attribution to her of the remark, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!” — “Let them eat cake!” The royal couple were forced to move to Paris. After the First French Republic was established in 1792, they were imprisoned by the revolutionaries. Marie Antoinette continued to plot for foreign intervention to end the revolution and free her family. Many attempts to escape failed. Ultimately, Louis XVI was executed in January, 1793. Marie Antoinette is remembered for her dignity and great courage while the Revolution subjected her to horrific brutalities before she was finally executed by the guillotine on October 16 of 1793.
Theresa Blake’s stunning eighteenth century style wedding dress below is inspired by Marie Antoinette. It is in cloud pink regal dupion and consistes of a corseted jacket/bodice with a separate skirt worn over pannier supports. The shell pink corseted bodice is ornamented with an eye-catching embroidered and beaded stomacher panel, and finishes in a shaped and pleated peplum, embroidered and edged in antique lace. The bodice is laced at the back to achieve a corset-like finish. It has fitted elbow-length sleeves ending in large, romantic cuffs with lace sleeve flounces. The skirt has an open front to show off the beautiful scrolling floral embroidery and draped panniers, again edged in lace.
C. M. Rubin and Theresa Blake met when they collaborated on a reproduction of the design of the original wedding dress worn by Alice Pleasance Liddell (the Alice behind Wonderland) at her wedding in 1880 in the world reknowned Westminster Abbey in London. An illustration of Alice Liddell’s dress was featured in C.M. Rubin’s bestselling book, The Real Alice In Wonderland.
To Dress A Princess