Sunday, January 31, 2010

On hiatus

I will be on hiatus briefly due to real life issues. Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

And I Quote...

"Personal beauty is a greater recommendation than any letter of reference."
- Aristotle

Monday, January 25, 2010

January 25, 1780

The weather has warmed slightly, for which I am very glad as it makes it ever so much more bearable to be out of doors. I even went for a stroll in the park with T- this morning, and he teased me about how soon I could bring my very own puppy here. Of course that implies that we will yet be staying in Paris after the puppy becomes mine.

This could very well turn out to be true, as one of our contacts in the navy may be willing to sell a commission, and T- may just be desperate enough to let me buy it for him. I am attempting to negotiate secretly, but T- is very good at sniffing out secrets so he will probably discover the plot before I can purchase it behind his back.

Maman seems to be missing Paris, or at least not to be enjoying home very much, since her last letter to me was full of scathing criticisms about my choices and expenditures. It iritated me so that I have not been capable of responding for more than a week. I wonder how my brothers are faring; though in truth I almost never have a letter from Andre in Ferney, so there is nothing unusual in that.

The staymaker is behind on my order, but the wait will be worth it I am sure, as no one fits me as well as he does. I tried a new style with my hair yesterday when the hairdresser was here, but was not pleased and ordered a wig instead. I expect that once we leave the city for Auvergne I will not be ordering any new things for quite a while, so I am taking advantage of the opportunity to do so now.

Today I wish to finish some embroidery while T- reads to me, and then we will have F&R for dinner and some cards. A quiet and peaceful day, awaits overall.

Olympe, Comtesse

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Countess' New Clothes- False Rump

Proof that some kind of progress is taking place, I just finished a false rump. Made in nearly the exact same way as a bumroll (which is an earlier version), this is a crescent-shaped pad tied around the waist and used, particularly in the last quarter of the eighteenth century to hold out the skirts in the proper shape. With the decline in favor of the pannier or pocket hoop, the false rump, cork rump, or rump pad helped to create fullness in the back, while maintaining a smoother and straighter silhouette in front.

I haven't found any documentation yet on just how cork rumps were fashioned, though one assumes that the material indicated was somehow involved. This one is made of black and red brocade that I had leftover from a previous project. It is stuffed with scraps of fabric, rags being an authentic method of doing so.

Still at work on that pair of stays, though it is hanging in the sewing room while I work on projects for friends.

Fastes de Court exhibition fun

Okay, so I'm kind of late reporting on this, but last year there was an exhibition at Versailles of court costume from 1650-1800. I was prevented from going, but I hear from those who did that it was wonderful. The website for the exhibition is still up, and if you click here it will take you to a page where you can upload a photo of yourself and create a potrait of your eighteenth-century alter ego. Be sure to check out the other pages on the website for more fun and information. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January 20, 1780

I attempted to go riding outside of Paris today with a party, only to be reminded of another one of the reasons to miss my dear Auvergne. The countryside around the city only appears to be the country, but I find that it lacks a true sense of tranquility. Perhaps it was merely the company.

After the ride I was able to accompany Comtesse de R- home to visit my puppy. She is simply adorable and I am very eager to take her home, but must wait until she is weaned, which should be in a week or so. It seems a long time until then, but I will be as patient as I can be.

Mme le S-B and I have settled on the servants to be retained and which furniture will be sent back. The process of packing up the household has begun, but I have signed papers to continue posession of Sully until August, at which point I will have decided whether I will be returning for the season or not.

That is too far ahead to consider for the present, and at the moment I am too tired and my eyes hurt me so I will retire for the evening.

Olympe, Comtesse

Sunday, January 17, 2010

January 17, 1780

My little masquerade was a terrific success! The food was delicious, the music enchanting, and the guests stayed until four in the morning, at which point Thierry and I crept exhausted to bed. Nearly everyone I had invited was there, and T- was as charming as I have ever seen him be, which to my great delight meant that he was well-received. Of course the ruse of the masque was such that no one was quite certain who he was, except for our very closest friends. A little mystery would seem to add excitement to the party.

Mme B-H- was the first to arrive, without her husband, and yet the last to leave; and despite a terrible cold the Marquise de C-A- attended, the Marquis arriving somewhat later in his own carriage (one wonders where he arrived from). Even Mme C- was there, having very recently given birth to her second son. She asserted very drunkenly at one point that it was the very last child she intended to provide for her husband, so I expect she will be leaving Paris for the company of her lover in Provence shortly. The widowed Duchess M- attended, and rumor has it that her lawyers may yet succeed in securing for her all of her late husband's estates, despite his natural son's claim.

The air was thick with gossip and laughter, and everyone seems to have had a very pleasant evening. I was very worried at first, but soon relaxed when the wine and the conversation began to flow. Comtesse de R- was not in attendance, which saddened me as I had wanted to inquire after the health of my puppy. I await word from her soon on the subject.

Today has been very relaxed, and we have done little while the servants recover Sully. Tomorrow I must settle with some merchants, and begin preparations for our departure.

Olympe, Comtesse

Saturday, January 16, 2010

And I quote...

"Le bailli vendage, le prevot grappe, le procureur prend, le sergent happe, le seigneur n'a rien, s'il ne leur echappe."
(The sheriff picks, the judge grinds, the prosecutor takes, the constable snatches, and the lord has nothing, if he escapes them not.)
- Jacques Pineaux, Proverbes et Dictons Francais

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

January 11, 1780

I am almost convinced that I will never gamble again, if not for the certain knowledge that I cannot hold to that. I have lost considerably tonight at R's, and he was kind enough to include T- in the invitation, which gives me great hope that we will not be entirely outcast when our marriage is announced.

The staymaker is coming tomorrow to fit me for a new pair of stays, since I have found no one outside of Paris that I trust to make them fit properly. Once they are done, as well as my last wig and my new travel outfit I will order nothing more.

To my great comfort, but little surprise, Pauline is not at all distressed to be leaving her new husband, Robert, behind. She will, with some apparent trepidation, be returning to her mother when we reach Saint Saturnin, where I believe she will be well cared for; she and her child.

Planning for the masquerade continue apace, but I have been disappointed in the number of guests who have responded positively so far; I had hoped for so many more, but perhaps they will respond tomorrow.

Olympe, Comtesse

Saturday, January 9, 2010

January 8, 1780

I am having difficulty remembering that the 1770's are over, and continue to write '1779' instead of '1780' on all of my correspondance. Mostly this consists of letters to Maman, Christine, and my steward, but also some orders to various marchandes. Today I started with letters in the morning, and sent Marianne to assist with the preparations for the masquerade. Pauline then accompanied me to pick up some shoes I had ordered, as well as a shirt for Thierry, new stockings, and we checked on my new travel outfit, which is coming along nicely; or so they assure me.

I am counseled by Msr. Poisson that there is no need to respond to the King's offer until the court returns from their annual trip to Fountainbleu. If I have a good reason for returning to Auvergne, like a visit to my mother in Riom, then I can return to Versailles after the King does and make my decision then. There is the thought that a quick, secret marriage would forestall any objection, but I fear the reaction that might provoke.

T- and I have dined simply, much as we did in Auvergne which I begin to miss. I am now looking forward to Chateaugay and the peace of home; even as I once did the delights of Paris. This trip has been something of a disappointment, yet undeniably enjoyable as well. Tonight I plan to read, spend time with T-, embroider the pair of pockets that I never seem to finish, and make plans for which items to take back with me and which to leave here.

Tomorrow I will meet with Mme le Sang-Boeuf about all of the arrangements. I have decided that for her own good I will take Pauline back with me, and I will leave her husband here since I really do not need another footman at any of my residences in Auvergne. I hope this is not a cruelty, and I will pay special attention to her feelings when I inform her of my plans tomorrow.

Olympe, Comtesse

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Countess' New Clothes- designs

As promised previously, and somewhat belatedly delivered, here are two of the designs for Olympe's new clothes. I hope to have them completed in reality by the end of the month.

Travel outfit & Mantelet au Lever de l'Aurore (dressing gown)

I will post pictures as soon as they are complete.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

And I Quote...

"A charming woman uses more subtlety and politics at her dressing than there are in all the governments of Europe."
- Petit Dictionnaire de la cour (1788)

Monday, January 4, 2010

January 4, 1780

It is quite cold, a fact which deters my inclination to leave the city, but the desire to spend time openly with Thierry overcomes all else. We have determined that as soon as I may take the puppy, we will travel to Riom where our families are, and will both stay at my castle, Chateaugay. When the weather warms a little, we will then proceed further south to dear Saint Saturnin.

In the meantime I am busying myself with seeing to the last orders from my marchandes, and planning the masquerade. There is something so delightfully wicked in hiding identities. I have on more than one occasion had cause to note that people are very different when masked, and do what they otherwise would not. Thierry will fit right in, I hope. Today I will decide the menu, and send someone to the printer's for invitations. There is still much to do before the 15th, including having my costume re-made.
There is yet an answer to be made about the Duchy, but I admit I have been avoiding it. I will speak to T- and see what advice he gives, as well as Msr. Poisson.
Olympe, Comtesse

Sunday, January 3, 2010

January 3, 1780

After a quiet New Years with T- we have begun in earnest to plan our escape. It appears that we may leave at the end of the month, but I have ordered several new ensembles and if they are not finished in time then we will delay until they are. There is no better time to acquire new clothing than while one is in Paris. I also, of course must wait for the puppy.

There is some concern about the roads, but the other problem is that the money which I brought is nearly gone, and I do so want to settle with my creditors before I leave.

Another problem I have to consider is whether to bring Pauline home with me, or leave her here with her new husband. I am by no means certain of the treatment she will receive on her own, but I have no use for an additional footman in Auvergne and it seems somehow improper to separate them. However, I'm sure her mother would wish to see her, and by keeping her close I may ensure that she and her child receive the best care. I have determined to keep l'Hotel de Sully at least for a while, and so Mme le Sang-Boeuf and the other servants will stay on.

No word from Maman yet to say that she has arrived safely in Riom. I have finally done as she suggested and visited Saint Cyr yesterday. The sisters look the same as they ever did, and several who were there at my time yet remain. They very much appreciated the books I brought, and the girls were happy for the oranges and sweets. I know what they were thinking, nonetheless; why is this lady unmarried? That being the destination of all our training I would seem to have failed. I of course could not tell them about Thierry.

Comtesse de R- and others are coming for cards soon, so I must prepare. Before I leave I must organize a party of some sort. I shall make plans for that today as well. If I make it a masquerade perhaps T- could attend.

Olympe, Comtesse