Marie Antoinette is known for her style, love of fashion and jewelry and in the end what led to her demise. One woman is behind her look more than anyone else including those amazing hair styles. Rose Bertin had a knack for style that drew the attention of a very devoted following that went back to her early days.
Born July 2, 1747 in Abbeville, she moved to Paris and started working at the Trait Galant boutique at just 16 years old. Owner Mademoiselle Pagalle dressed the ladies in the court of Louis XV, and the young assistant was much in demand. It was more about the adornings on the dress then the dress itself. Lace, feathers, jewels and ribbons creating a one of a kind dress that allowed the ladies to stand out at court.
On May 11, 1774 the day after Louis XV died and Marie Antoinette became queen of France, Rose was introduced to the young queen by her customer, the Duchess of Chartres. In no time at all, Rose was meeting with the queen twice a week to talk about what she wanted and even designing the very tall hairstyles.
Rose refused to follow trends, instead, she actually set them. When Marie wanted a casual dress to wear at the Trianon and the Hamlet, Rose designed a loose white muslin dress that Vigee Le Brun captured on the canvas. While it shocked many that the queen was depicted in such a casual way it became the must-have look in Paris.
Working with the queen until her final moments she created the simple dress she wore to the guillotine and then promptly left France. As the very public image of the queen’s excess, her destiny would end much like her famed client if she hadn’t. Spending those years in Belgium and London before returning to Paris in 1795.
In 1770 she opened La Grand Mogol, eventually moving it to 26 Rue de Richelieu where it remained until she returned to Paris. In the early 1800’s she finally closed it after her customers weren’t returning to her like they had before. On September 21, 1813 she died in Epinay-sur-Seine at 66 years old.
Rose was the first celebrity fashion designer, created the first fashion magazine thanks to the urging of the Queen and created the mystique of Marie Antoinette that remains today.
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