Monday, December 29, 2008

Birthday Girl: Mistress and Hairstyle

287 years ago today, in a modest quartier of Paris, was born a baby whom her parents, M. and Mme. Poisson, decided to call Jeanne-Antoinette. Her brilliant career belies the general gloom of babies born today, although even her glamorous legacy has, of late, become tainted.

That little girl, you see, grew up to become, for a while, one of the most powerful women in the world, mistress of Louis XV, the Marquise de Pompadour. She has been in equal part admired and villified ever since, but even her critics grant her quite remarkable intelligence, taste, elegance, and devotion to her King.

She was the guiding spirit behind the transformation of the at times ghastly rococco of the Louis XIV style into the still luxurious but cleaner-lined and more classically minded Louis XV; she was renowned for her wit and even - unusual in the cutthroat world of Versailles's courtiers - for her kindness.

How sad, then, that today, she is, more or less, a coiffure:

And, worse than that, a coiffure that, Elvis aside, has almost never flattered anyone.

Not to mention one that is today perhaps best known for adorning the world's sole surviving Stalinist dictator - a man who will likely also be remembered, on some level, for his sense of style, if not quite with the fondness that we recall little Mlle. Poisson...

1 comment:

  1. It must always been stressed that the marquise's power really took off after she stopped sleeping with Louis XV.