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>The Sun (and No Fun) King

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>It was during the reign of the fat-as-fuck Louis XIV in which fashion was solidified as an institution of state power. Louis XIV is one of the most powerful leaders in the history of Europe, who’s court at Versailles could be called the most exclusive and focused center of power in the history of the European world. Access to that court and to any position of power within his government was regulated by strict sartorial guidelines that changed every season. This model of rapid trend-molting and change was a way in which Louis could determine a courtier’s allegiance to his systems, and a necessary indication of a man or woman’s wealth was their ability to quickly change their feathers. This is much more literal than Anna Wintour’s hold on American fashion; until the death of Marie Antionette and the French Revolution, the French Court’s word on dress was actual law. Nonetheless, our model of cyclical trends and the use of trend to determine someone’s relationship to power seems to have been solidified in the French court of the seventeenth century.

Funny and outrageous results of Louis’s extravagance which have stuck with us to this day: “Louis’s outrageous vanity, sumptuous court and devotion to his own well-being led to growth in the manufacturing of fine clothing and shoes, and the invention of shops in which to buy them, and to celebrity cuisine, cafes and Champagne (a particularly amusing—and explosive—chapter). Louis was enthralled by glitter, which fostered a huge increase in the diamond trade; and the first night streetlights (hence the “City of Lights”). Louis also abhorred mud (so streets were paved with cobblestones) and disliked getting wet (thus umbrellas were invented).”

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Written by alexgfrank

December 16, 2009 at 5:36 pm