Marie-Caroline of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Duchess of Berry: 1820-1830
Marie-Caroline, born November 5, 1798 in Italy, was the widow of the duc de Berry; she was a duchess and mother of the heir to the Bourbon monarchy. She was an Italian princess who had married into the French royal family at twenty years of age and was the center of court life during the time of the Restoration reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X. From the moment she arrived in France, she was inspired to be a leader in art, literature, music, and fashion; while these interests proved her amazing artistic abilities, her involvement in them became just as much a social practice as it did a creative one. She was known to be determined, unconventional, and frankly, iconic in the 19th century, most widely known for her fashionable attire. Some of her influence reflected the Romanticism of the era, a fascination with the past, and particularly, trobateur, a French style that depicts attire from the Renaissance era (Fashion History Timeline). When looking at photographs of her, one can note the Renaissance style jewelry, sleeves, and fabrics. For example, in the image above, she wears puffy silk sleeves and pearls. This differs from the typical styles of this era which included vibrant colors, ribbons, modest necklines, and tended to lack the Renaissance style silk sleeves shown on Marie-Caroline. Marie-Caroline gravitated toward more eclectic and costume-like styles; in fact, one of her favorite things to do was host parties where guests arrived in fashions of the 16th century, which came to be known as La Quadrille de Marie Stuart, and were shown in the fashion press during the 1820s. From her love of fashion and art to her social involvement in the royal court, Marie-Caroline was, and will continue to be known as, a rule-breaker, experimentalist, and icon.