Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Red Carpet Dilemma

It's always fun to watch the Oscars! I love the film industry. When I was growing up, I couldn't think of anything better than enjoying a great movie. If it was really good, you were lost in it for the duration, and carried it with you for days or weeks or years thereafter. The best of films have that kind of effect.

But besides the competition for the Best Movie, Best Actress, Best Song, there is the RED CARPET! The gowns and the jewels and the hairdos are generally all wonderful, though the A-listers always have a little something more going on for them.

It got me to thinking about how one of the 18th Century A-listers might approach the style game!

Of course, in the mid to late 1500's Queen Elizabeth I had the style thing completely down. She manipulated her public persona to the ultimate level of "Gloriana", becoming more than a person, but a goddess of sorts. Her famous Rainbow Portrait, painted in 1600, in the last years of her life, show her ageless. Her hair, makeup, the gown, the jewels all help to depict her as something beyond a woman, or even a queen. No one was allowed to see her without full makeup, hair, clothing. Gloriana was an icon.

For the 18th Century, the style maven that comes to mind is Marie Antoinette. Once she came to power, as the new wife of the crown prince, her true function was to produce an heir, but once that was accomplished she was "free to do her own thing", as they say. And, she did. She didn't invent fashion, but promoted new radical trends to stretch her public persona.
She favored 3 foot high powdered wigs, bosom enhancing bodices, ankle-baring skirts, the "robe a la polonaise" . Anything for shock value.

Of course, she took things a bit too far, developing her image not as someone to emulate, but of someone who cared nothing for her subjects, or by today's standards, her fans. Think today how precarious it can be for a celebrity to lose favor. If a celebrity dresses extravagantly, but shows that she cares about the little people, gives generously to charity, is shown serving rice porridge to the poor, embracing AIDS victims (remember Princess Di), then she can do as she pleases. If she is selfish and self-centered, it's not long before she falls from grace, ie Paula Dean, Brittany Spears, Lindsay Lohan.

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