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Versailles out of time

November 27 2017

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Versailles lives again, Versailles is reborn. French clothing, panties, embroidered jackets, leotards, wash-thongs or frock coats with hammered buttons, Nicolas Ghesquière obsessed and made the court of Louis Vuitton down the street, for its 2018 spring-summer parade. But has Versailles really already left us? His ghosts haunt history for centuries: history of fashion, history of luxury, history of architecture, history with a great H! Versailles is Marie-Antoinette, Louis XIV, Jules Hardouin-Mansart, André le Nôtre, Vigee le Brun, Molière, Rose Bertin, so many personalities who make the artistic and cultural fame of France. Versailles is a Cire Trudon candle, a Louis Vuitton garment, a LaDurée macaroon, a heritage that luxury has been stamping for decades to make its emblem. Versailles is everything around us and more. Versailles is in us, since always. - Private Jean.


he immense palace whose facade on the side of the gardens is the most beautiful in the world ". This is how Voltaire describes the Château de Versailles in his collection Fragments on the general history published in 1773. This castle, which is attributed to the Sun King Louis XIV, actually finds its origin in 1623 with Louis XIII who makes it his hunting relay. It is only in 1682 that Louis XIV transforms it into a sumptuous castle which becomes his main residence. His court settles there, the place becomes the theater of prestigious ceremonies and the renovations of the gardens then of the ice-cream gallery realized by the finest projectors, offer him all the flamboyance which one attributes to him still today hui. Some 7,7 million people visited the castle last year.

Its history and its escapades become sources of inspiration as they unleash passions in France and abroad. Series Versailles directed by Simon Mirren and David Wolstencroft who was born in 2015 on Canal + is the proof. First series of the history of the small screen to be exported as quickly, in 135 country in 2 years. On the British BBC channel, 1,2 million viewers were present on average per episode aired during the first season. It must be said that the series puts the package, with a royal budget to the image of the reign from which it is inspired: 27 million euros for 10 episodes. A real court of hairdressers, makeup artists, costumers, which has nothing to envy to that of Marie Antoinette.

And yet we talk about Marie-Antoinette, the true first fashion fan, shopping addict and influencer of modern times. Under the leadership of her "Minister of Modes," Rose Bertin, an army of plumassiers, embroiderers, wigmakers, weavers, worked every day to make her the finest fineries. Never had a woman been so much the image and the muse of French savoir-faire. She never wore the same dress a second time, it was a strict rule. Avant-garde on everything, even the choice of her costume designer, the first success businesswoman of the history of fashion.

Part of nothing, Rose Bertin started her own business and quickly became the darling of the bourgeoisie of the time before becoming the appointed costume designer of the queen. She is the first to liberate women in a certain way with her polish dress whose "ass" replaces the restrictive basket. And as Laurence Benaïm says so well in her latest work Versailles and fashion, published by Flammarion, "Marie-Antoinette, it is a style, it is already a pace". The queen stirs up jealousy, goes on scandal scandal, the goal above all: to be the center of attention.

In his book Versailles and fashion, Laurence Benaïm, biographer of Yves Saint Laurent, traces in majesty his career, from his reign to Versailles to his reign at Dior and Hollywood. This icon of Versailles, haunted the creations of John Galliano at Dior who paid tribute to him in almost every collection of sumptuous flying costs, reinterpreted roses or large headdresses. He celebrates the 60 years of the Dior house in Versailles with the greatest models of the time, Naomi Campbell in the lead. Evidence when you know that the queen was the main source of inspiration for Christian Dior himself.

Karl Lagerfeld also does not hide his admiration for her. Under his hand, the tweeds seem to come out of Marie-Antoinette's boudoir. In 2012, he scrolls in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles Chanel Métiers d'Art collection, where tweed coats were transformed into large prom dresses. A few months later, Lady Gaga celebrates the new year in one of the creations of the creator, Marie-Antoinette is in the digital era. The most contemporary creators fantasize, like Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons and his ghostly collection White Drama. Kirsten Dunst performs in the film Marie-Antoinette from Sofia Coppola. The queen is the star in Tokyo, in 2017, of the exhibition Marie-Antoinette, a queen at Versailles, at the Mori Arts Center Gallery.

Marketing departments highlight their historical past with Marie-Antoinette or Versailles. "These are the Queen's candles" boasts Trudon's Cire. The macaroons Ladurée, for making an appearance in the film Sofia Coppola, become the macaroons of the queen. There are countless people who are queuing in front of the Parisian shops of the brand to get their set of macaroons.

Trump wanted to restore a small Versailles in his New York apartment covered with gold leaf, for him it is "the ultimate luxury," he says. Megalomania ! And this madness, this desire that Versailles arouses in all fields and all social classes, Nicolas Ghesquière understood well. It delivers a spring-summer collection for Louis Vuitton fantasy where the court of Versailles becomes the street, playground of the XXI century. In the Louvre, embroidered frock coats are cut out sportswear, panties are transformed into shorts with elastic waist, prom dresses are short and leather and sneakers replace the shoes. The most bluffing? The fluid dresses of incredible lightness and whose gathers at the waist accompanied by a clever system of knots and cuts, reflect the silhouette of the corset. Versailles and Marie-Antoinette radiate forever, for eternity.

To read : Versailles and fashion, written by Laurence Benaïm and published by Flammarion, 2017