I enjoy giving advice to others on how to get unique hairstyles.
Why does Marie Antoinette smile at us from her paintings? Because her hair is full of secrets.
Seriously though, Marie Antoinette had dreadfully fascinating tresses. Here are ten fun facts about this doomed fashionista's epic, epic hair!
1. Marie Antoinette Had Some Royal Hair Flaws
While Marie Antoinette is famous for her amazing hair, she actually got a lot of criticism for her uneven hairline and high forehead, which her hairstylists regularly fought to conceal and lessen.
2. Marie Antoinette Was a Powder Fiend
During Marie Antoinette’s time in the French court, powdered hair was considered somewhat mandatory. Nobody showed up at court without it.
The powder applied to posh people's heads consisted of either potato or rice flower starch (or Cyprus powder, which is made from reindeer moss or another similar lichen). Some powders contained additional perfumes and colors. Powder was fixed to hairstyles with pomatum, a sort of scented oil.
3. Marie Antoinette Had a Diva Hairdresser
For most of her life, Marie Antoinette’s main hairdresser was a Parisian named Léonard. Léonard was such a big deal that he could only afford to leave his salon in Paris and dress the Queen’s hair once a week—on Sundays. All other days, the important role of royal hairdresser went to one of Leonard’s assistants, known as “le beau Julian.”
Léonard was, without a doubt, a total diva. What Madame de Genlis said of him sums this guy up perfectly: “Léonard came, he came, and he was king.”
4. Marie Antoinette and Léonard Pioneered the Pouf
Léonard didn’t get famous for sitting around and doing nothing. This impressive hairdresser is responsible for Marie Antoinette’s most famous hairstyle—the pouf.
The pouf was first flaunted in 1774, at the coronation of Louis XVI, and boy, did it ever make waves!
5. Hairstyles in Marie Antoinette’s Court Were Similar to Today’s Witty T-shirts
In addition to decorating their elaborate, powdered hairdos with ribbons, flowers, and precious jewels, fashionable and with-it women in Marie Antoinette’s court would embellish their hairstyles with various figurines and miniatures to comment on or commemorate certain life events or popular contemporary themes.
One might, for example, have an American Revolution-themed hairstyle with war motifs, or a hairstyle with a miniature baby or nurse to celebrate the birth of a new court celebrity. Some hairstyles even sported miniature ship models.
When you think about it, these witty hairstyles were very similar to today’s ironic t-shirts! They both found wry and fashionable ways to comment on the current craze or communicate messages like “baby on board.”
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6. Marie Antoinette’s Hairdressers Had to Go on Damage Control
Due to a combination of stress, depression, and (probably) vigorous hairstyling, Marie Antoinette’s hair began to thin (and maybe fall out) in 1776.
So that the queen's hair may have a chance to start fresh, it was cut short a couple of times during her life (typically right before or after the birth of a child). During these periods, she had to rely on wigs (more than usual).
7. The Pouf Was Not Marie Antoinette’s Only Signature Style
Because Marie Antoinette had some hair thinning problems, her hairdresser Léonard had to try out a new look. What resulted was a short, feathery style, which, after the birth of her son in 1781, was nicknamed coiffure a l’enfant.
If only every new mother’s messy hairstyle could be fobbed off as a trendy fashion move!
8. Marie Antoinette Got Nervous, Too!
One of Marie Antoinette’s nervous habits was to run her fingers through her hair. Next time someone gives you a hard time for doing the same thing yourself, scoff at them and say, “If the queen of France did it, I can, too.”
9. Marie Antoinette Went Gray Early
People first began to notice gray hairs on Marie Antoinette’s head when she was in her early 30s. As her country’s political climate became even more tumultuous and the Queen’s life fell into upheaval, she ascribed her hair’s change in color to various stressful events.
10. Marie Antoinette’s Last Cut Was a Total Disaster
The final person to “style,” or rather, de-style Marie Antoinette’s hair was Charles Henri Sanson, a fourth-generation executioner. He cut off her hair using large professional shears. It didn’t look great.
There You Have it!
I hope you find these fun tidbits of information to be as interesting as I do!
If you would like to read more about Marie Antoinette's hair (and amazing life), I recommend picking up Antonia Fraser's Marie Antoinette: The Journey. It is from this book that I learned the majority of the facts mentioned above.
I will leave you with one simple, humble request: PLEASE, BRING THE POUF BACK INTO FASHION!!!
Nigel Josepha Johanna von Habsburg-Lotharingen von Meerendonk on May 18, 2018:
The big forehead is a lie
Jessie Childs on February 19, 2015:
This made me believe that I must have always wanted to know about Marie Antoinette's hair, nice hub! :)
Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on March 31, 2013:
From what I have heard, lice was one reason for the powder. Lice prefer to live in clean hair. The powder supposedly killed and kept the lice away. Yuk, makes my skin crawl to think about it! Too much maintenance for me. I am retired now, I have too much to do. I cut my hair short every spring now and gray is just going to have to be "my color". Cool video and hub! Up and interesting! :)
Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on March 30, 2013:
What a terrific video and article!
Having majored in Fine Arts in college, I was familiar with many of the paintings of Marie Antoinette. I had no idea, however, about anything related to Marie Antoinette's hair.
Ruth McCollum from Lake Oswego, Oregon on September 24, 2012:
Loved this hub! I can only say i too went gray early,and I'm sure glad hair styles are so different now!
Chantele Cross-Jones from Cardiff on September 24, 2012:
What a fun hub, very different!! I didn't know most tof that so thanks for the little bit fo random knowledg!
michael ely from Scotland on August 16, 2012:
Good look. Just don't forget to duck going through doors!
Skarlet from California on July 13, 2012:
I hope that HUGE hair makes a comeback too.... :)
The paintings of her and the big hair are really something, its too bad her life turned out so tragic.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on May 02, 2012:
Yeah, I hate that she met such an unfortunate end. Thanks for reading!
Ruth McCollum from Lake Oswego, Oregon on May 01, 2012:
Too bad they not only cut off her hair ,but her head as well. I enjoyed this hub,This being the second hub about her hair I've read tonight. I find this hub so well written and interesting!
emilybee on April 24, 2012:
Your videos are the greatest. My boyfriend has one long white hair. Sometimes I cut it so it's not so large and noticeable but it always comes back. My mom has learned to adore her grey hair. Me, well, I don't know if I'll be that secure about my greys when that day comes ;) Keep up the videos!!!
Mohan Kumar from UK on April 05, 2012:
There is a popular TV series called 'Horrible Histories' in the UK that deliver many historical facts in a hip and humorous way. Your hub and video would fit right in that canon- hilarious, informative, fun to watch and lots to learn. voted way up. You are a great narrator! I am going Powdering my Afro comeback.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on March 14, 2012:
YES!!! WOMEN FOR BIG WIGS! I know it's only a matter of time before this look makes a comeback (however brief and limited in scope it may be). Here's hoping that comeback is soon!
Kitty Fields from Summerland on March 08, 2012:
You know I'm a HUGE fan of Marie Antoinette! And her hair was utterly fab. Great idea for a hub, and I DO so hope that we bring back HUGE HUGE hair one day soon. :) Voted up and awesome. WOMEN FOR BIG WIGS!
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on February 28, 2012:
Hahahahahaaa!! Oh, but if only I could get my hair to more permanently stay up in that frightful ensemble.
Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on February 21, 2012:
OMG Pretty Lady, I just hope that hair of yours went back to where ....um....it was meant to go!!!
I also second the shea duane comment! No lame ideas on the Simone page!
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on January 30, 2012:
Thanks anglnwu!! LET'S DO IT!!!
Oh, it's an interesting book indeed, carozy! Though it is also pretty dense. So many people! So many events! So much protocol! I'm STILL working my way through it.
And goodness me, drbj... what I would GIVE to go back and see Versailles in the 17th and 18th Centuries! And I do see how a recording device might be superior to going in person... considering how bad it must have smelled...
Thanks so much, shea duane! I'm chuffed :D
And hahaa- grey is beautiful, FloraBreenRobison! Though I, too, am not so good on the high-maintenance hairstyles @_@
FloraBreenRobison on January 28, 2012:
This is too high maintenance for me. Homestreadbound's comment makes me afraid of them too. I also started to go grey early.
shea duane from new jersey on January 28, 2012:
You come up with the best ideas for hubs!
drbj and sherry from south Florida on January 28, 2012:
Too bad, Simone, that the miniature tape recorder didn't yet exist. Imagine the royal and otherwise secrets we all could have been privy to if Marie or others had concealed such an instrument within their respective poufs!
carozy from San Francisco on January 27, 2012:
Well. That was interesting! You're making me wanna read the book..
anglnwu on January 27, 2012:
Nice hairdo, it looks becoming on you. Let's bring big hairdo back--I'm for it since I'll be going to Singapore and my hair always puffs up with the high humidity. Rated up.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on January 27, 2012:
I can certainly see how the phrase might have started with that practice, Glenn Stok! And alas, I did not go to HPHQ with that hairstyle, but I really DO want to rock it in the office sometime soon. Just have to figure out how to batten down the hatches, as it were.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on January 27, 2012:
The book did not mention this, homesteadbound, though I have heard about lice being an issue during earlier times. And spiders get everywhere! Though considering all the weird powder used during this time... maybe they wouldn't WANT to be in all that stuff!
Thank you ever so, elayne001! Bangs would be a good solution, but alas, I'm dreadfully bad at styling them to keep them in place!
Oh, so sorry about the video loading troubles, tsmog T___T Though props on rebuilding your own PC!
And YAY!! I'm happy to provide some morning lulz, alipuckett :D
Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on January 27, 2012:
I wonder if that's where the term came from... "bad hair day." Interesting review of Marie Antoinette's hair days.
I was wondering, did you walk around the office at HP with that hair to promote this Hub? It's a great way to get people's attention. Isn't it? Well done.
alipuckett on January 27, 2012:
HA! Your video just gave me my 'good morning!' laugh! Thanks! :)
Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on January 27, 2012:
This looks to be a very promising hub. Sadly, my PC stumbles terribly when playing videos of recent. Reading about these facts was entertaining, yet I so wanted to experience your rendition too. I look forward to your talent filled video articles in Feb when I rebuild my PC. Awesome and voted up, up and away , , ,
Elayne from Rocky Mountains on January 26, 2012:
You really do look a lot like Marie Antoinette and the hairdo becomes you! Maybe you can try a bit of bangs so the uneven hairline and large forehead won't be so noticeable. Just saying....
Cindy Murdoch from Texas on January 26, 2012:
I have always heard that spiders and other insects often lived in these hairstyles. Did the book mention this? I have always wondered, but had thought that it would be possible! Great job, as always!