Friday, June 3, 2016

Marie-Antoinette's Daily Routine

From Enchanted Revelries:
Marie Antoinette would change three times in the course of the day: first of all there would be a formal silk or velvet gown to be worn to Mass, followed by a lighter, more informal muslin, lawn or cotton dress for the rest of the day and then finally a gorgeously elaborate evening dress to be worn to dinner, concerts or balls....

There was a definite emphasis on the senses – Versailles at this time was absolutely foul smelling and the courtiers did everything they could to keep the smell at bay. Marie Antoinette’s rooms were scented with a profusion of fresh flowers, melted pastilles, pot pourri, oils and perfumed sachets. She particularly loved the fresh scents of orange blossom, lemon, rose, lavender and violet and her rooms would have smelled heady and sweet as you entered them.

The Queen loved to douse herself with eau de fleur d’oranger (orange blossom water); simple violet, rose and jonquil scents or more complex perfumes made with vanilla, musk, lavender, iris, jasmine and lily or lemon, cinnamon, angelica, cloves and coriander. It seems that everywhere she went, she wanted to be surrounded by gorgeous smells.

Unusual for the time, Marie Antoinette insisted on frequent baths and her bathroom at Versailles still exists with simple dove grey walls and a sloping tiled floor so that the water could drain away. Her perfumer Fargeon invented for her the bain de modestie, which involved donning a flannel chemise so that her body would not be exposed even to the gaze of her ladies in waiting. Once in the bath she would sit on a large pad filled with sweet almonds, pine nuts, linseed, marshmallow root and lily bulb while she washed herself with muslin pads filled with gentle and exfoliating bran and soaps scented with herbs, amber and bergamot. (Read more.)

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