[The popular image of Marie Antoinette at the Petit Trianon is of a] notorious faux shepherdess—a frilly little apron tied over a pastel frock, a decorative staff wound with streaming pink ribbons, and a mile-high hairdo obviously ill suited to the tending of livestock
For her new library, she ordered apple- green taffeta curtains and wooden paneling painted in the softest shade of white.10 The private theater boasted airy ceiling frescoes representing Apollo (forebear of both Medea and the Caesars), robin’s-egg-blue wall coverings, sculptures made of papier-mâché, and glass-stone ornamentation made to resemble precious gems.” Along with Marie Antoinette’s collections of crystals, shells, Japanese lacquerware, and petrified wood, the villa’s cabinets of curiosities were filled to bursting with flowers made of delicate china and enamel.’ And throughout the place, light-colored textiles embroidered with cheerful bouquets — roses and jasmine, apple blossoms and lilies of the valley — brightened the furnishings and the walls and augmented the prevailing sense of relaxed, casual elegance.
She ordered the construction of a perfectly turned neoclassical belvedere, a mysterious grotto with a waterfall, and a small, columned rotunda called the Temple of Love, which sat on a tiny island overgrown with lilac bushes and rose trees.
The party that she hosted in September 1777 to celebrate the completion of the Temple of Love cost a whopping 400,000 livres. Conceived as a fête galante — a relaxed outdoor idyll of the sort made famous in the paintings of Antoine Watteau — this event took place in a temporarily constructed village square containing fairgrounds, a marketplace with a variety of food stands, and a “tavern where the drinks were poured by the ladies of the court, while the Queen dispensed lemonade.” At dusk, twenty-three hundred colored lanterns bathed the gardens in rosy light, and the band of the Royal French Guard, outfitted in fanciful “Chinese” uniforms, provided the music for dancing.
- Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution