Friday, October 21, 2022

Making ‘Marie Antoinette’ Their Own

 Emilia Schüle (Marie Antoinette), Louis Cunningham (Louis)

 That's for sure. Because she is not the Marie-Antoinette that I have read, wrote and studied about. Brown eyes! Oh, come on! But some of the costumes are lovely. Louis XVI is well-cast and at least Madame du Barry is portrayed as a blonde. Otherwise, it appears to be a disaster.  Where is Artois and his wife? Where is Madame Elisabeth? Only two Mesdames Tantes again? It looks like they kept all the mistakes of the Coppola film. I hope I am mistaken. From WWD:

 “She was such a queen of fashion,” said costume designer Marie Frémont of Marie Antoinette, the iconic and ill-fated last monarch of France. Despite her doomed end, Marie Antoinette continues to reign as a cultural figure, influencing designers including John Galliano during his time at Dior, and Vivienne Westwood, and as the subject of Sofia Coppola’s 2006 Oscar-winning film. Now, the petulant princess is being reexamined by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Deborah Davis in an eponymous series starring German actress Emilia Schüle. The lavish, 23 million euro English-language production from CanalPlus follows the young Austrian as she’s sent away from her family at 14 years old and thrust toward the throne, through her first decade in France.

“Our writer made a choice to distance the narrative from everything we already know about Marie Antoinette and her passion for beautiful things,” Schüle said. “People see her as this party girl and this icon that just cared about wigs and dresses, but we are going to portray her in a much more emancipated and modern way because that’s what she truly was.” Schüle flew to Paris shortly after being cast, and the experience set the tone for the German actress. “We had to get started with wardrobe right away, so suddenly I’m in this room full of French people. Most of them don’t speak English — I don’t speak any French. So I felt like a foreigner just like Marie Antoinette did when she arrived from Austria.”

Fittings were stiff as she had to stand still for hours, which initially made her so uncomfortable she fell ill — another parallel with the young queen. “It helped me get into character because just like Marie Antoinette, I did feel like uncomfortable with the corsets. And with loads and loads of fabric, I had to adapt to an entirely new existence,” she said. Schüle said being tightly trussed upended her eating habits, required assistance going to the bathroom, and made her completely dependent on other people dressing and undressing her.

“It just gave me another insight of what life must have been like back then for women and how it was an obstacle. I don’t know if this getting too political, but it was also a means to suppress women because you can’t even run with this kind of dress. This is why we need trousers,” she joked.

To further mimic Marie Antoinette’s sense of displacement, production decided against etiquette training, particularly on how to sit and stand in such a getup, adding a sense of awkwardness with this new weight on her. Wigs were designed to be hollow and light, but, along with makeup, it could take up to five hours a day to complete the look.

Marie Antoinette’s private apartments were rebuilt with all the gilt and glamour on a soundstage on the outskirts of Paris, with other interiors shot at chateaus and palaces, including some scenes at Versailles. “I was living in a bubble, the bubble of perfection with perfect rooms and perfect dresses,” said the Berliner, who admits to preferring a “certain note of edge” in her personal style outside of set. On the red carpet, she’s worn Gucci, Chanel and Dior.

Dior also designed two costumes for key scenes, including when Marie Antoinette was being presented in Paris for the first time and another when she attends a ball. That collaboration came about when Frémont and Schüle were discussing scenes during one of their many long fittings, and decided that the Parisian occasions called for special gowns. Schüle was fitted in the Dior atelier. There have been so many famous takes on her fashion, that it was a challenge to create a new approach, added Frémont.

“Of course a big reference was Sofia Coppola’s ‘Marie Antoinette,’ but we wanted to do something of our own and everybody wanted it to be modern. Deborah [Davis]’s vision is quite modern because it’s a woman’s vision, a really interesting perspective. We also wanted to keep it quite historical because sometimes when you want to modernize, you see the show a few years later and it can be seen as dated,” Frémont said.

Frémont looked to the writings of Marie Antoinette’s lady-in-waiting Jeanne Louise Henriette Campan, and plumbed the depths of Paris’ fashion museum Palais Galliera. It holds more than 1,600 garments from the century, which gave Frémont new ideas on fabrics, dyes and textiles. She kept the historic codes while adding in lighter materials, exploring leaner silhouettes and brighter colors. “Of course, there were a lot of ‘It’ girls in the 18th century, which invented very fun things and fantasy, so you can go quite far,” Frémont said.

Each character was given their own color palette, with Marie Antoinette’s in blues, greens and grays. “Some of the blues are quite strong and not the pale pastel we are accustomed to. It’s more a reflection of the truth of the time — deeper blues and greens, Prussian blue, duck blue,” Frémont said. The colors get bolder throughout the series as Marie Antoinette grows in power and inner strength.

There are deep purples, and even a bright apple green for the character of the Count of Provence, which stemmed from a find in the Palais Galliera which Frémont called “astonishing.” The costume team hand-dyed many of the fabrics in order to get a richness of color, and a winter shoot allowed them to play with heavier textiles, such as velvets for added depth.

Still, Frémont lobbied to keep the tight corset. “I fought for it because I think the lines of the 18th century need to be carried. Of course we used more modern fabrics to make it a little bit more comfortable,” she said. Marie Antoinette was required to wear a more rigid version called the grand corps, which was considered an honor at the time not bestowed on lower women of the court, but she complained about in private letters written at the time. Frémont did decide to forgo this strict shape and use a standard corset.

“I was so happy the day we stopped filming that I wouldn’t have to wear those corsets again,” Schüle added.

The first series required 140 complete outfits handcrafted for the principals, as well as dressing dozens of extras. The production rented some costumes for the background actors from across France, Italy, Spain and the U.K.

One of the unusual aspects of filming during the pandemic was that several productions that had been temporarily halted were now back up and running — all at the same time. “The racks of the rental houses were quite empty. We were lucky [with some pieces] but there was really not a lot of things left,” Frémont said. “But even without this challenge we decided we wanted to make our own costumes for the extras to give our own tone to the stock. It was a bit of an issue, but we were prepared.”

Before the next installment of the series, which is slated for three seasons, Schüle is taking an acting sabbatical to attend film school in London to study directing. The next seasons will be more transformational as the young queen becomes more confrontational against the system and moves to the Petit Trianon, she said.

“I know this is not the view that most people have of her, but she was fighting to preserve her freedom and her personal space. And that was, after all, something that enabled her enemies to undermine her and eventually destroy her. Because she was not adapting, she was fighting against the rules of the court, she found them ridiculous,” added Schüle. “She was stubborn and wanted to change things. She was a rebel.” (Read more.)


To quote from Yahoo:

Nicknamed “the beloved,” at the end of his 58-year reign, Louis XV — accused of corruption and debauchery, and battling public opinion over his relationship with du Barry, a former prostitute he fell in love with and brought to court — lost much of his popularity. Purefoy, who embraced his role, says Louis XV was a “rule-breaker” living an “extremely eccentric life.”

“When I first read Deborah’s script, I thought, ‘Mad. They are all mad,’” says Purefoy. “But you have to imagine that every morning when he would wake up, 150 people would be in his bedroom.”

Observing the “perfectly shaped Versailles gardens” made him realize that Louis XV was most likely a “total control freak who was used to nothing being out of place.” When Marie-Antoinette comes along and “things start going out of place, there’s a sense of chaos and panic,” says the actor.

The French protocols, then called “etiquette,” were created by Louis XIV, the “Sun King” who was portrayed in the series “Versailles,” produced by the same team as “Marie-Antoinette”: Claude Chelli at Newen-owned Capa Drama, Banijay Studios France and Canal+’s Creation Originale label.

“In ‘Versailles,’ we showed how Louis XIV invented the etiquette, and in ‘Marie-Antoinette’ we show how the queen destroyed Versailles stone by stone and arranged to have her own life,” says Chelli, who produced the series with Stephanie Chartreux and Margaux Balsan. “It’s a very powerful story of emancipation.”

The series also introduces lesser-known real characters including Joseph Bologne de Saint-George, a Creole virtuoso violinist and conductor who was part of Marie-Antoinette’s entourage. “He was a very close friend of Marie-Antoinette and everybody was shocked because he was Black but she didn’t care,” says Chelli.

Aside from Bry-sur-Marne, the series shot on location at the Versailles Palace, the Chateau de Fontainbleau and the Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte. The crew consists of 780 people with top-notch artists such as costume designer Marie Fremont, costume artistic designer Madeline Fontaine and production designer Pierre Queffelean, assisted by Clovis Weil.

During his time on “Versailles,” Chelli learned the time-consuming process it takes for period dramas, since simply changing costumes and wigs could take nearly two hours. “Marie-Antoinette” took the challenge to a whole other level because she would “change wardrobe every 10 minutes.”

Many of the outfits in the show are made by hand, and several of those craftspeople also work at haute couture houses, including Chanel. Fremont’s team faced a shortage of period costumes in France because of the large number of dramas currently in production, so they searched for fabrics in Italy, England and Spain. The fabrics were then dyed to create a wide-ranging palette of colors and fake embroideries were applied by hand. “We decided on a color palette for each of them; it’s a saving strategy because we can mix and match outfits more easily and it creates a rich look and effect with less costume,” says Fremont.

Louis Cunningham (Louis), Emilia Schüle (Marie Antoinette)

Do visit Le Boudoir for expert commentary, HERE.

And Frock Flicks always has an entertaining and accurate assessment, HERE.



Fire@Will said...

Thankfully, I can report you are mistaken. She may not necessarily be a 100% physical match for the dauphine, but Shüle, oozes grace, and she NAILS her personality in a way I haven't seen since Norma Shearer. Madame Elisabeth is shown, however, she is aged down, I expect to see more of her in the next 2 seasons that cover the fall of the Monarchy and the Revolution. First season is mostly about the Du Barry rivalry. Fersen also has a very fleeting role, but the focus is on her relationship with Louis Auguste. Antoinette flirts with Fersen, but it's very "courtly love" type stuff. Nothing serious, at least on Antoinette's part.
Her romance with Louis XVI is simply beautiful. I've never seen the royal couple portrayed with such care and respect. You'll love it! 9/10

elena maria vidal said...

I am delighted to hear this!! What about Artois?

Fire@Will said...

He didn't show up in the first two episodes, so 🤷. That confused me a bit too, since Provence and his wife are both sizable characters

elena maria vidal said...

Strange since Artois was Antoinette's constant companion to balls and the opera in those early days, which unfortunately gave rise to rumors that he was her lover. And later his son married her daughter. Strange not to have him.

Fire@Will said...

Oof!! Disregard the above recommendation... I had to turn it off at episode 4- Fersen was by far the least horrifying thing here.
I loved both Louis and Antoinettes actors, so I was very disappointed that they're wasted here.
Louis sexual assaults Antoinette and as a result, Antoinette and her brother convince Louis lose his virginity to a prostitute so he can receive "lessons".
There's a horrifying scene where Louis comes to mass late with his buttons and hair messed up from a lesson and he and Antoinette laugh about his reports while in the chapels balcony.
Not history, or even entertaining. Boring and offensive garbage

elena maria vidal said...

Thanks for letting me know. That's very disappointing!