10 Fun Facts About Marie Antoinette's Hair
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 Leonard 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.”
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 upheval, she ascribed her hair’s change in color to various stressful events.
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!!!
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.