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FASHION FILMS TO FEATURE AT ASFF

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PPQ DOES THE MODERN DAY TIARA

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'KNITTING FOR JULIET' COMPETITION LAUNCHES IN ITALY

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NICHOLAS ROSE'S FULL COLOUR LIVING

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LFW: BACKSTAGE AND BEYOND AT PAUL COSTELLOE

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CARMEN DELL'OREFICE TO OPEN SINGAPORE FASHION WEEK

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#UNLOCK ART FILM SERIES ENDS ON A HUMOROUS NOTE

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August 12, 2011

Versailles Series: Le Théâtre de la Reine

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Last week we saw Marie Antoinette's wee bedroom (I just read that this was indeed her original bed) and that was the last view from inside the Petite Trianon. Walking outside, I had no idea which way to go. I stared into a small marsh trying to see one of the bullfrogs loudly croaking and did. And off in the distance was the Temple of Love filled with people, in the middle of nothing (I think, maybe I would have seen something had I gone out there).

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I saw pathways in at least half a dozen directions and didn't know which one to take, I didn't want to miss anything. I hate maps and the one for Marie Antoinette's domain was so busy I didn't even bother to check it. In case you haven't figured it out, I'm not one to plan a route, I'd rather just go and see what happens. (When I was much younger I drove, or rather 'fled' to New York City once with a friend and stupidly refused to look into just how I would get to Manhattan where we had arranged to stay with her friend (who was an assistant photographer to Annie Leibovitz at the time. I wonder what she's doing now). I wound up in the Bronx talking to a gas station attendant through a drawer. Well, I talked and he didn't. You couldn't even see the guy, he was behind opaque black bullet proof glass with duct tape all over it and I knew I had to get back in the car and out of there fast. So I  followed a police car into a sketchy apartment complex for help getting out and they thought that was suspicious - it was 3 a.m. - so the two officers got out of their cars and walked over to talk to us. They saw my Ontario plates and one asked in his thick New York accent 'Ontario's beautiful  - whaddya doin' here?' I explained and they gave us directions, and as they were walking away they stopped to talk, looked back at us and came back over. The one said 'Hey, can you do us a favour? Our friend over there (pointing to another police car parked at the side of the building) is sleepin'. Can you bang on his window and scare 'em?' I said 'No thank you, I don't want to get shot in the face'. We arrived at the place in Manhattan soon after and I've never been happier to be in a stranger's tiny, weird-smelling apartment. I no longer 'just see what happens' in those situations.)

Back to Versailles. Here's the rear view of the Petite Trianon:
  

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You can see one of the paths on the left:


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Then I found myself in a garden of manicured hedges and those neat rectangular trees that look like tree lollies: 
 

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When I walked out I found myself in front of a building. I didn't know it (remember I don't look at maps) but I was entering the Théâtre de la Reine, or the Queen's Theatre, and what a surprise!

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I'm going to quote what the Chateau de Versailles website tells us about this small, breathtaking theatre, le Théâtre de la Reine:

Richard Mique’s work, architect of Marie-Antoinette

While the Opera of Versailles was a theatre of court, the small room at Trianon was a theatre of society, as many existed then in residences in the countryside where, to pass the time, the owners and their guests would put together plays or operas. During her childhood in Vienna, Marie-Antoinette had gotten used to these familiar performances. She wanted to do the same with her close relations, princes of the royal family and some rare friends.

In 1780, on the orders of Marie-Antoinette, Richard Mique built this theatre whose severe exterior contrasts with the refined interior which, through its harmonies of blue, white and gold, recalls the opera of Versailles, only smaller since it has a capacity of only a hundred people: the domestic service on the floor and the guests on the first floor behind the boxes with grids. But the greatest luxury is not in the wooded room painted in a false, veined white marble and adorned with sculptures made of pasteboard, it lies in the machinery used for the scenery changes, which was fortunately preserved. On the stage of Trianon, plays by authors who were fashionable at the time, such as Sedaine and Rousseau, were acted out and entire operas were sung, and everyone agreed that the Queen was very good.


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The view from the foyer of the theatre

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To see the previous posts in the Versailles Series click here!

Photos © The Swelle Life

July 29, 2011

Versailles Series: Marie Antoinette's Petite Chambre

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I've been dying to get back to my tour of Versailles! We're back on track now with Marie Antoinette's bedroom. I know what you're thinking, "This can't be it." Well, this was just one, her bedroom in the Petite Trianon, her private chateau (which really was private - husband Louis had to ask permission to enter, not that he really cared to).

It's very modest in contrast to its salons, though surely better than anything we have, but still very small (which is why the angles in the photos are short):

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Either she was incredibly petite or she liked to sleep in the fetal position. I don't think she had a choice here!

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The reflection in the mirror looks odd due to my crude eradicating of the tourists (yes, I know I am one, too, we're all guilty of ruining each other's photos) 

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TheSwelleLife_9 Marie Antoinette's other 'throne'

Now I found this a bit odd. As you stand in the doorway to her bedroom you will find a tiny salon to the left. I guess this was her ensuite sitting room and there's nothing strange about that, but it just felt so awkward, kind of shoehorned into the space. Though still lovely and not lacking in the handcrafted detail of the grand salons, done in white with gorgeous silvery blue tapestry accented with lots of gilt, of course.

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Lots more to come next week (and the next week, and the next week...)!

Photos © The Swelle Life

May 27, 2011

Versailles Series: Marie Antoinette's Chateau, the Petit Trianon Pt. 2

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This is the salon in the Petit Trianon, the grandest room in the chateau. Some of the photos are a bit dark; however, the duskiness does convey the hazy, 'frozen in time' feel of the room at that moment. The berry saturated embroidered silk textiles that carry throughout the room complement the pale green and white painted boiseries gorgeously, and serve as a teaser for the more vivid acid hues we're about to see in the Grand Trianon.

If you notice dark smudges in some of the mirrors, fear not, it's no ghost (though that sure would be cool). I could pretend it's a patina belying the age of the 18th century artefacts as  seen in some of the other rooms, but really it's my poor attempt to erase the reflections of the crowd. A big guy in an electric blue t-shirt with a giant Nike swoosh on it kinda blows the scene.

Watch next week for a small but charming bedroom that I can't believe Marie Antoinette slept in, with its own awkwardly placed salon, and her toilet!

You can see the previous posts in the Versailles Series here

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Photos © The Swelle Life

May 20, 2011

Versailles Series: Marie Antoinette's Chateau, the Petit Trianon Pt. 1

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Originally built by Louis XV between 1762-1768 for his long-term mistress, Madame de Pompadour (who did not wear a pompadour), the Petit Trianon was eventually given to Marie Antoinette by Louis XVI when he became the King of France (and let's not forget Navarre) in 1774. Unlike the elder mistress of his grandfather who died four years before its completion, Queen Marie actually did live in it.

At 19, she'd already been married for five years after being shipped off from Austria by her mother to marry the future king of France and didn't care much for her royal duties.  She spent much of her time in the (relatively) little chateau and its gardens with her few friends, and later with her children.

It is said that even King Louis wasn't allowed to enter his wife's domain without her permission (impressive) and that he really didn't mind. (You can take that both literally and figuratively - he was more into his hobbies than his wife and they didn't consummate their marriage until 1777, according to a letter Marie Antoinette wrote to her mother. However, considering they were 15 and 14 years old when they married it makes the whole thing far less gross. )

And our tour continues! (The really cool rooms start with the next post.) As you walk into the grounds of the Petit Trianon you see...

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Have you seen that Seinfeld episode where George's dad puts a pool table in a tiny room and every time someone goes to shoot they slam their cue into the wall, themselves or someone else? This room reminds me of that.

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TheSwelleLife_38Everything must be gold!

 

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Lots more to follow and it gets better. This tour is a slow burner!

Photos © The Swelle Life

May 05, 2011

Versailles Series, Pt. 1: Bassin de Neptune

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While in Paris I visited Versailles for the first time. Why I didn't go when we lived there I have no idea, maybe I fell into that trap of thinking you have lots of time, then it's gone. Here is the first of what will be many, many posts from Versailles. I walked for 6 hours straight, didn't eat, got a bit of sunstroke and took over 1000 pictures,  and I didn't even see the main palace. (And I'm not finished with my show and tell of Paris, either!)

This series is all about Marie Antoinette's domain, the Petite Trianon and the Grand Trianon.

Admittedly, this introduction, starting with Bassin de Neptune, is the most boring of the scenery. How's that for a lead-in! It's the very first thing I saw when I left the grounds of the palace to go to the trianons of Marie Antoinette's domain. It was stunning in person and I'd wish I had a picnic with me, but of course it can't compare to the structures and the lavish rooms of the palaces, or the gardens, in photos. I could have edited heavily and got into it quicker, but I'm showing all of the angles for those who haven't been and want a feel for what's it really like to be there.

The Bassin de Neptune took over a century to complete (and you thought condos were scandalously behind schedule) and features in Versailles' spectacular fountain show. I did not see this spectacular fountain show. But it's just as well, I seriously could not take in any more beauty than I already had, it was gorgeousness overload and all I wanted to do at the end of the day was drop to the ground and sleep. I don't recommend that, however, there are a lot of dogs about.

I hope you like green.

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The trees have been sculpted to look like giant hedges. How do they do it? And how often to maintain the sharpness of the edges? I can't find an answer, so if you know, please tell us in the comments!

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This is the tree-lined path to Marie Antoinette's domain - a long, serene walk with horses and sheep providing the periferal scenery. This little lamb likes to walk around with his tongue sticking out, as so many of us do:

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Photos © The Swelle Life

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