Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Powder pastels in Marie Antoinette

With the hint of Spring just around the corner, the soft and sumptuous palette of Marie Antoinette has never been so appealing.

A biopic on Marie Antoinette could easily have fallen into obscurity alongside countless other historically based costume dramas. However, with Sofia Coppola at the realm, this was never going to happen. You may recognise Coppola from her other work such as the soft focus and dewy paletted The Virgin Suicides and here again, her direction does not disappoint. With attention to beautiful cinematography and design, Coppola places a clever and heavily deliberate importance on costume as a stylised character unto itself. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the elaborate ensembles of Marie Antoinette, submerging us in a world of 18th century decadence and excess, using modern influence to really set itself apart from the costume drama crowd.

With the fragile beauty of Kirsten Dunst as the canvas for the role of Marie Antoinette, the tone of the film is one of delicate innocence thrown into a lavish and opulent world. Marie was fourteen when she was married off to the French heir to the throne and thrust flagrantly into the public eye, developing child-in-a-sweet-shop syndrome; a naive and porcelain beauty given anything she desired. This is reflected in the colour palette of Marie’s decadent gowns, all pastel soft and gauzy lace. Oscar-winning costume designer Milena Canonero recalls Coppola handing her a box of pastel-coloured macaroons from the Laduree pastry house at the start of pre-production, with the words 'These are the colours I love'.  Their influence is unmistakable in the beautiful silks, taffeta, and satin. These were days in which draping one’s self in lavish lace and jewels was a signifier of wealth, Marie Antoinette the most indulgently wealthy of all.

The footwear is the work of Manolo Blahnik, shoeing our teen queen in an opulent collection of candy-coloured heels generously embellished with ribbon, embroidery and beads. The shoes themselves are of a height and shape that would be impossible to attain by real period techniques, yet the fantasy element of this is characteristic of the luxury of French royalty at the time. This is the theme of the whole film, with the mixing of modern-day pop songs clashing gloriously against the period settings. Above all, this is a peaches-and-cream look at a young Queen whose rose-tinted innocence and naivety was to be her eventual downfall.

Let them wear cake!

(That one was too hard to resist...)

USA/France, 2006
Director: Sofia Coppola
Costume Design: Milena Canonero 


  1. I love your take on this movie! It's one of my favorite movies of all time!

  2. Thank you! I started this blog yesterday so it's great to have your feedback!

  3. Your blog is very interesting and I am happy to be your first follower:) Would you like to follow me back?

  4. love this movie.xx