Monday, November 29, 2010

And I Quote- Thomas Jefferson

"I do not wish you to be gayly clothed at this time of life, but that your wear should be fine of its kind. But above all things and at all times let your clothes be neat, whole, and properly put on. Do not fancy you must wear them till the dirt is visible to the eye. . .. Some ladies think they may. . . be loose and negligent of their dress in the morning. But be you, from the moment you rise till you go to bed, as cleanly and properly dressed as at the hours of dinner or tea."-A letter from Thomas Jefferson to his daughter, Patsy 1783


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November 15, 1780

Last night I hosted a small party of supper and cards, the Comte and Comtesse de R- were there, Mme M-, Msr P-, and of course F- and T- as well as a few others. At first the conversation, and the wine, flowed freely and merrily, but after a time I came to notice an unpleasant pattern.

There were two tables set up at which the guests were playing, and I myself moved between them. F and T were at one with four others, and every time T- laid a card down or made a move F- would speculate on his hand, inviting the other guests at the table to do the same. To his credit T- remained visibly unconcerned by this attack, but I was puzzled by it and suggested some alternate amusement. At this T- suggested forfeits be added to the game, which the others enthusiastically seconded.

For a while the game continued pleasantly, with the other table soon joining our group to see what the amusement was that had us laughing so heartily. Mme M- lost an earring to Comte R-, and Comtesse R- was forced to show us her impersonation of Choiseul. At last I was pressed to play a hand myself against T-, which I lost, and in forfeit of which he requested a kiss. An innocent kiss upon the cheek or hand would have been enough, but he knew that it would anger F-, which it did, and he promptly invoked his right as my betrothed to deny such a request. A song was agreed upon instead, and the rest of the guests made their excuses soon after, the awkwardness being palpable.

So now there is enmity between my lover and my husband-to-be, where once there was intended to be friendship and cooperation. I do not like this feeling of being owned, and wonder if it was not a terrible mistake to consent to this lie. Would this have been any different had R- not died?

For now wedding plans must continue. Maman arrives Monday to aid in the preparations. I must seem cheerful, and T- must remain out of sight. The King's answer to the reacquisition is still that it must wait on the surveyors to be determined, and that the Duchy du Bouillon will be granted to me and my heirs only upon the death of my cousin, who is like to live forever with such encouragement before him. I feel most ungrateful since it was he that took me in when I was ill, but he will not understand that it was the King's will and not mine that made offer of the duchy. I long for a simpler time, everything is so muddled, and my steward writes that the money is running out, but it always is. There is nothing to be done, but to go forward with our plans, all else is unchangeable.
Olympe, Comtesse

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Teaser- Stays

The ever-talented American Duchess, Lauren, is in the process of making a new pair of stays for me. I find stays to be one of those things that it's just better to have someone else do, in part because they are so time-consuming and also because it helps to have an outside perspective on something so close to one's own body. Photos do help though. These are the test stays, so there will be some alterations. The final version is in a soft yellow jacquard with a brighter yellow stomacher over which the center is laced in blue ribbon. Can't wait to see them!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Triumph of Love

Adapted from the play of the same name written by Marivaux in 1732, this film, released in 2001, is one of those lesser-known gems that publicity forgot. Starring Mira Sorvino, Sir Ben Kingsley, and Fiona Shaw; it is a fast-paced romp through concealed identities, cross-dressing, lost heirs, and the always-interesting enlightened mind versus an open heart.

Mira Sorvino plays an unnamed princess who discovers that although her parents usurped the throne from the rightful King and Queen, there was a little prince, now hidden away by a philosopher and his sister (Kingsley and Shaw), who is the true heir. Determined to make things right by marrying the now-grown prince, Aegis, she goes to the philosopher's home disguised as a man, only to find that the prince hates her and despises all women and love. Hilarity ensuses as the princess uses seduction, bribery, and wit to win over all three of her foes independently of one another.

But can a foundation of lies ever lead to true happiness? In this version, somehow, everyone gets what they need, even if it is not what they want. Ben Kingsley is as amazing as ever in his role as the single-minded philosopher Hermocrates, who although he becomes ever more ridiculous is always full of pathos. Fiona Shaw delivers a performance inspired not merely a little by the enlightenment scientist Emilie du Chatelet, and well-embodies the trials of a serious woman in a man's world. Sorvino likewise acquits herself well, bouncing from petulant to joyful, uncertain to determined in a heartbeat.

The only two things to mar an otherwise stellar film is the odd breaking of the fourth wall at times, with views of an audience, plainly seen by the viewer as well as the actors, but that can be chalked up to an attempt to remind us of the origins of the piece in Marivaux's play; and the one-note performance of Jay Rodan as Aegis. He is shown taking little action on his own behalf until the last moments of the film, and whether angry or confused reacts in much the same way. One is left wondering if the kingdom wouldn't be better without his participation in its governance.

Still, it is a fun period movie filmed in the lush landscape of Tuscany, with an authentic 18th century feel to the story and language. Nothing too weighty here, this is a perfect film for rainy afternoons, background noise while sewing, or anything at all.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Back in the office

Back in the office after attending to a show that has had me working feverishly for the last few weeks. Regular posts will recommence shortly. See you soon!