Celebrating 18th Century Style

The art, culture and history of 18th century France has been a constant source of study and inspiration for some of my favorite taste-makers, especially Karl Lagerfeld, who has said “I shall always remain affected by the ambience and youth of France in the 18th century.”

The last really big revival of the 18th century was in the 1980s, beginning with Diana Vreeland’s amazing exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (“The Eighteenth Century Woman” in 1981), and reaching its apex when Christian Lacroix became an international sensation with the opulent “pouf” skirt of 1986.

Recently, Sofia Coppola’s beautiful film, “Marie Antoinette,” sparked some minor interest in the 18th century, though regrettably it was a short-lived revival. The style of 18th century France is simply not for everyone. It reminds some of Liberace or Alexis Carrington. There’s nothing wrong with Liberace or Alexis Carrington, of course, but the style of 18th century France was much more refined and much more interesting, which is why an exhibit such as “Marie-Antoinette and the Petit Trianon at Versailles,” is so important.

Running until February 17th at the Legion of Honor, and organized by the Musee National of the Chateau de Versailles, the exhibit gives a visual history of the Queen’s Petit Trianon through 88 pieces of furniture, paintings, and sculpture from this chateau. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see these pieces in person without going to France.

I am so happy to see that at the opening on November 15, several museum supporters dressed in the spirit of the night — either in true 18th century costume, or in super chic ensembles inspired by the times. The great Thomas Gibbons took some wonderful photos, some of which you can see below (for more, visit thomasjohngibbons.com):

Cameron Noble, Amber Marie Bently, Christopher Bently, and Mireille Schwartz
Here’s a better shot of Cameron and Mireille… or is that Queen Mireille?
David Glynn and Max Boyer
Mrs. George H. Fitch (isn’t she totally chic!)
Alan Malouf
Helen Raiser and Jennifer Raiser

Edward Karkar with the great ballerina and actress, Natalia Makarova, and their son, Andrei Karkar (named after Prince Andrei in War and Peace.) These people have some SERIOUS style! Love them!

Dede Wilsey, Trevor and Alexis Traina, and John Traina. One reason I love Dede Wilsey? She’s the only person in San Francisco who, when asked to dress like Marie Antoinette, can put on a necklace that looks like it belonged to the woman herself. And she looks great doing it. Thank you, Dede Wilsey, for wearing gems like gems were meant to be worn!

And thanks to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco for another spectacular exhibit that is not to be missed.