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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Marie Antoinette

After the trial of Marie Antoinette she was taken to the "bathroom of the condemned" for the brief interval before her execution. She gave up her mourning dress, as requested, and dressed in white with black stockings and fine heeled shoes, the only reminder of past luxury. In Sofia Coppola ’s film she needed a designer to re-create the 18th century decadent shoes and called on Manlo Blahnik. Blahnik, a self confessed man with a passion for women’s legs, women's legs, started the project by studying original 18th-century shoes that belonged to the Queen in Paris and from the Victoria and Albert museum in London. gave him footwear that belonged to the French queen. Manolo completed all his designs at his home never visiting the film set. In between sketching and sewing Manolo traveled extensively signing thousands of shoes. The success of the film and the impression left on the fashionista mean many designers have used rococo-inspired decorations. French fashion house Balmain featured a mini-dress with gold and crystal embroidery reminiscent of illuminated fountains at the Palace of Versailles. Karl Lagerfeld used gilt flowers and Jean-Paul Gaultier had a sparkling chandelier printed on a simple shift. There were touches of the same influences in the Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior haute couture collections and experts believe the popularity of the film has brought a sense of romance to the catwalk for spring-summer 2007.

"The Charm of Rococo: Femininity and Footwear in the 18th Century," an exhibit of footwear worn by upper-class women during the age of Louis the XV, is currently on display at The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto and will be available for viewing until June.

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