Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Scented Palace, a scented life

I really enjoyed the book A Scented Palace by Elisabeth de Feydeau. It covers the career of the perfumer to Marie Antoinette. I learned a lot about perfumes, the court rituals and wonderful information about the language of the "patch" (facial patches) and all the inventive items Jean-Louis Fargeon created for his customers at Versailles.

Some things never change--women still want beauty products and scent. We still go in for make-up fads from time to time.

A few of the more interesting items I learned were: The perfumer would scent the gloves and use scent on the folding fans too--how delightful that must have been! He also created lingerie pouches that were scented.

The word toilette comes from the use of the toile fabric Fargeon used to soak in scent and then line it front and back with satin and it was used on the dressing table. Remember in those days scent was essential because of poor hygiene (the English bathed more often but the French were slow to accept daily bathing) and the poor air quality within the chateau.
The dressing table was important and women and the queen had people in while they completed their "toilette" at their dressing tables.

Marie Antoinette's insistence about taking her lavish toilette set, in part, led to their ill-fated attempt to flee Versailles. They also left in a fancy carriage--duh!

Have a PINK day!

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