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Rococo Moderne

February 14, 2010

The Swing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, 1767

Does the thought of  roses, ribbons, pastels, hair accessories, foofy dresses, and over-the-top excessive decoration get your little heart-a-racin’? Do your hobbies include swanning about in beautifully sculptured gardens, reading poetry, listening to musicians in the gardens and shopping? Or dressing up, parading about and engaging in the arts of conversation and flirting? If you answered ‘why, yes indeedy!’ to all of these then you must be a wealthy lady, or gent from the Rococo! Or someone really awesome that should CALL ME. Let’s be friends.

Anyhoo, the term Rococo refers to an art-historical period in the 18th century characterised by its decorative extravagance, curling scroll work and a preoccupation with love and leisurely pursuits. Sandwiched between the severity of the Baroque and the high-minded ideals of the Neoclassical periods, the Rococo is my favouritest period of ALL TIME! The love of beauty, the preoccupation with love and happiness, the hedonism. There’s no war, there’s no moral lessons, it’s not about glory, or heroism, or saintliness. The works produced in this period of peace and prosperity are about beauty, joy, love and happiness, and what are better subjects than those!

Madame Bergeret by François Boucher, 1746

Key elements of the Rococo style: bows, gems, ribbons, elaborate detailing, pearls, powdered, and pastel hair, excess, over-the-top decorative elements, curved lines, wigs, focus on love & leisure, elaborate up-dos, multiple hair-accessories, EXTRAVAGANCE, frills and decadence. It’s about asymmetry, candy colours, love, and playfulness. 

Chanel Couture Spring 2010

The Rococo (so much fun to say!) is having a bit of a revival. Not only in the colours and philosophy, but design elements and style. These shoes from Chanel Couture Spring 2010 feature classic Baroque/Rococo scrollwork as the heel. 

Chanel Couture Spring 2010

Marie Antoinette by Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun, 1778

Rococo Moderne

I knuckled down and scoured the depths of Polyvore (the depths I tell you!) for the fun, fantastic and frivolous. Everything that is the epitome of the new Rococo. Gems, sparkles, cupcakes and gold-leaf. Florals, ribbons, ruffles and bubbles!

To wear Rococo without looking like a cupcake (unless you want to of course) stick to simple silhouettes and pastels, either plain or  floral prints. Light bright colours are key, so no fawn or beige or taupe. Add a bow or two (or three) or a headdress of some sort, something sparkly and maybe a sheer rufflled blouse. Accessories with a selection of macaroon or cupcakes et voila! Rococo Moderne. 

The extravagent nature of the Rococo lead to its fall from favour. The Enlightenment movement had spawned the superficial Rococo by placing the importance on man and the physical world rather than on the concept of an afterlife. This meant that rather than donating all your money to the church and being humble, pious and commissioning religious works of art in order to get in God’s good books, the wealthy were free to do whatever they wanted because it was only their time on earth that mattered, so better make it enjoyable. Sound familiar?  This is where the focus on beauty comes in. They wanted to be surrounded by beauty so art works from this time are highly decorative and aesthetically pleasing, but don’t have much going on in the way of a deeper meaning or message. Where in the Baroque the purpose of art was to instruct, now it was to be looked at and enjoyed. The Enlightenment Age eventually reacted against the explosion of frivolity, as  the rich were carrying on with shopping sprees and wild parties while the poor were starving. It wasn’t rational to let all the wealth go to the few and let the country be run by someone just because they were born into a particular family. So bye bye went the Monarchy, and bye bye went the Rococo. Well, if everyone around you who was rich and dressed extravagantly got imprisoned or had their heads chopped off, you’d get pretty conservative too and fast.


Revived again in the 19th century, in the furniture and fashion worlds in particular, the Rococo continued to influence whenever there was a need for ridiculousness, fun and love. Today the Rococo revival is led by the image of Queen Marie Antoinette of France. Her influence alone has been massive. Simply searching on google for “Marie Antoinette Style Icon” brings up tens, if not hundreds, of blog entries and articles on her style. The apparent decadence and hedonism of her lifestyle really appeals to us today. In terms of modern Rococo revivals we have not only the Sweet Lolita sub-genre which is heavily inspired by the Rococo as well as Victorian fashion, but there are magazine’s inspired by Marie (Marie Antoinette Magazine), dolls, jewellry (the ‘let them eat cake‘ necklace is one example. I have this in turquoise) and many other smaller aspects of this period making their way into modern fashion. The bell shape of some many skirts at them moment, the bright pretty colours, pinks, blues, the aqua and pink combination, floral fabrics, tiny prints and big, all of these are elements inspired by the Rococo style. 

With our era’s emphasis on personal happiness, the individual, self expression, beauty and the importance of romantic love, is it any wonder we love 18th century style again?

Here’s to whimsy, girlishness, cupcakes and excess. Viva La Rococo!

9 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2010 10:37 am

    Adorable post! My friend Lynleigh owns & operates her own Rococo-Lolita style custom clothing shop Sweet Rococo

    • Trixie permalink*
      February 15, 2010 11:39 am

      I was trawling their gallery just today! How cute is all the stuff she produces? What a lovely looking site she has. Very impressive!

  2. February 15, 2010 2:08 pm

    I think a half sleeve in this theme would very much suit you! I had to google it when you commented that on my blog.. Lovely x

    • Trixie permalink*
      February 16, 2010 1:44 pm

      Thanks doll. I really want it now! But first- money. 😦 Stupid money.

  3. dollyasylum permalink
    February 15, 2010 6:08 pm

    You are SPEAKING TO ME! I fucking LOVE all this. If I had a shitload of time and money I would dress like a modern day Marie Antoinette ALL THE TIME and hold garden parties complete with string quartets and extravagant cupcake displays…..Sigh! What a delicious post, Trixie! Ooh la la!
    P.s. i was feeling quite schlumpy and lethargic all damn day, but reading this has rather sparked my imagination back into gear, so THANKYOU! ♥ ♥ ♥

    • Trixie permalink*
      February 16, 2010 1:49 pm

      What? That’s my life right now. It’s just difficult with those old trams, you know. Tiny seat and doorways and massive hooped skirts don’t play well together and the musicians always have to stop to pee. SO ANNOYING. I’d have them all killed but then who would play my theme song as I enter Coles?

      P.S: thankyousomuch! xxx

  4. Desiree permalink
    February 22, 2010 7:22 am

    Hey you! You have been nominated for a Sunshine award by me! Visit my blog and claim your prize if you want! ❤

    • Trixie permalink*
      February 23, 2010 9:54 pm

      Thanks Desiree! Too sweet.


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