Figure 1: Vigee Le Brun before 1800. Rose Bertin.
Rose Bertin was Marie Antoinette’s favourite dressmaker (milliner) and friend, and the first celebrity fashion designer. Rose Bertin used fashion as a means to empower women, she in many aspects, a quiet feminist. Bertin wanted to give women recognition at Court in France. She thought that by making her designs 3 metres wide she would place women centre stage and create a presence so grand as to compete with their male counterparts.
Marie-Jeanne Rose Bertin was born on 2 July 1747 Abbeville, Picardy, France, a textile town.
Rose’s career began at a very young age when she began working as an apprentice to a fashion merchant. By 1772 twenty-five-year-old Bertin worked her way up and soon opened her own shop, the Le Grand Mogol. It was during this time that Bertin was introduced to the then 17-year-old Marie Antoinette. The two formed an instant friendship over fashion and would spend countless hours discussing designs and the French fashion scene. Antoinette loved Rose’s designs and was often the gossip of Versailles, and elsewhere in France, whatever Antoinette wore, other fashionable French ladies would follow. Rose Bertin nicknamed the unofficial “Minister of Fashion”. During Marie Antoinette’s time, Bertin enjoyed grand success.
When the queen was arrested, she continued to supply Antoinette with small orders of ribbons and famously made the Queen’s mourning outfit when Louis XVI was beheaded. After Antoinette’s beheading, Bertin fled France and returned after the revolution. The reign of terror by now savaged France; fashion had altered dramatically from the style Bertin once owned. Bertin’s designs were no longer welcomed for their impractical nature, soon Bertin would leave the fashion scene. She died in 1813, twenty years after Marie Antoinette’s death.
Rose Bertin, Marie Antoinette’s Milliner, Influences today’s Fashion. 2017. Agnautacouture.com [online]. Available at: https://agnautacouture.com/2015/05/03/rose-bertin-marie-antoinettes-milliner-still-has-an-influence-on-todays-fashion/ [accessed 14 July 2017].
Rose Bertin. 2017. Palace of Versailles [online]. Available at: http://en.chateauversailles.fr/discover/history/rose-bertin [accessed 14 July 2017].
VIGÉE LE BRUN, ELISABETH. n.d. Rose Bertin.