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Caroline Weber is associate professor of French at Barnard College, Columbia University. A specialist of eighteenth-century French literature, culture, and history, she has also taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University. Her other publications include Terror and Its Discontents, a well-received and widely taught book on the Reign of Terror; an edited volume of Yale French Studies; and numerous academic articles. She lives with her husband in New York City.
The queen who made fashion history-and another sort of history when the sans-culottes cried, "Off with her head." Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
At Versailles, where even the daily rouging of the Dauphin's cheeks was a highly ritualized and politicized affair, and where obedience to protocol could brook no infringement, 14-year-old Marie Antoinette's refusal to wear her whalebone corset threatened the Bourbon-Hapsburg alliance. As this prodigiously researched, deliciously detailed study (perfectly timed for the fall release of Sofia Coppola's movie) of the doomed royal's fashion statements demonstrates, her masculine equestrian garb, ostentatious costumes for masked balls, high Parisian hairdos and faux country-girl gear were bold bids for political power and personal freedom in a suffocating realm where a queen was merely a breeder and living symbol of her spouse's glorious reign. An iconic trendsetter whose styles were copied by prostitutes and aristocrats alike, Marie Antoinette was blamed for France's moral decay and financial bankruptcy, the blurring of class lines and callousness toward the poor. When many of her aristocratic contemporaries donned tricolor ribbons and jewelry set with stones from the Bastille's demolished walls as pro-revolutionary emblems, a defiant Marie Antoinette reintroduced her most opulent jewels into her daily costume. The generously illustrated history by Weber (Terror and Its Discontents) posits that the queen's fashion obsession wasn't about narcissism and frivolity but self-assertion; even at the guillotine she controlled her image with a radiantly white ensemble. (Oct. 1) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"A perceptive work of scholarship that helps to explain the transcendent importance of fashion to French culture." --The New Yorker "Queen of Fashion is as richly imagined as the gowns it describes. . . . As sociology, it's nothing short of stunning." --The Washington Post Book World "Absorbing, fascinating, a wonderful display of grace and expertise." --The New York Review of Books "A thrilling frock-by-frock account . . . While this book is rigorously researched, Weber's narrative style is energetic and alive with her own feminine pleasure at a beautiful dress or an outrageous pouf." --Entertainment Weekly (grade: A) "Wickedly enjoyable." --The New York Times Style Magazine