After reading Caroline Weber's QUEEN OF FASHION as research for my upcoming book, I was eager to learn more about 18th century french fashion and the origins of haute couture. After searching Amazon, I came across ROSE BERTIN THE CREATOR OF FASHION AT THE COURT OF MARIE-ANTOINETTE, a detailed account of the queen's favorite dressmaker. Originally published in 1913 in french by Émile Langlade, the text has been translated and reprinted. We already know the importance that Marie Antoinette's wardrobe played during her reign, so it makes sense that the only thing more important than the dresses themselves was the woman who made them.
Armed with beauty and ambition, Rose Bertin came to Paris and to the court of Versailles early in her career. An opportune meeting with the new monarch and coming into her favor would set the tone for the rest of her professional and private life. Quickly becoming the choice milliner, Bertin clearly understood the power of the influence the queen had and what that meant for her profits. For even when the general populace conspired against her, they still wanted to dress like her. What the queen wore influenced a fashionable world and fueled the economy, thus making what Bertin created so very important. I wonder if Bertin had never left her small village, would another genius milliner have taken her place?
From the Au Grand Mogol on Rue de St. Honore, Bertin used her familiarity with Marie Antoinette to her advantage. Her genius was to keep the queen in new, ever changing styles whilst the rest of her clientele eagerly tried to keep pace. The task to constantly create something new and trendy is not unlike the challenges fashion designers face today.
With the story of her life and career, we learn how Bertin is so closely related to France's deep love affair with haute couture. Subsequently, the book is also a detailed account of the entire fashion era.
ROSE BERTIN is a brilliant biography carefully curated from published memoirs and journals from the National Library. Bertin's fashionable dress filled life is full of anecdotes of unrequited love, money woes, and law suits. It all makes for a very interesting read...
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