Réception du Grand Condé à Versailles (1878) by Jean-Léon Gérôme
My Dear Louise,
I hope this letter finds you well in Venice. Much has happened here at court since you left for Italy and the less demanding attentions of the Doge over those of our King.
The Queen is dead; of this I am sure you are by now quite aware. Sweet and lovely Queen Marie Theresa passed most painfully into Gods care on July 30, 1683. My dear friend the Queen expired in my very arms and I am bereft. Upon her death his Majesty said. “This is the first trouble which she has given me.” I was told he had the cologne he wore the day of his meeting her, L’Eau d’Ange sprinkled on his mourning dress and wig and placed into all the Oiselets de Chypre infusers to perfume the chateau.
Subsequently Versailles is in an uproar! Dressmakers, wigmakers, perfumers, cobblers are arriving in droves and the corridors are crawling with them as they rush like mad bees from apartment to apartment of all the quite hysterical ladies of the court. The hunt is on and I do not mean for foxes or deer in the Versailles Forest. No matter how young or for that matter, decrepit some ladies may be they are all casting there nets to catch the kings eye. It is a comedy worthy of that charming Monsieur Moliere. (The King has ordered a revival performance of “Les Fourberies de Scapin” to ease his mourning, or so I am told)
In any case my dear is it a madhouse here in the palace. While the King is sniffing orange blossoms from the trees he brought from Spain in the Orangery for the Queen’s pleasure the lines are being drawn in the sand for a war of silk fans and lace garters. His Majesty’s current mistress, Madame de Montespan is on her way down, down, down. The king is so obviously tired of her. I can hear the convent bells tolling her name or at the very least a rustic forgotten chateau far from court is very much in her cards.
Madame du Ville, is pushing her overdressed idiot thirteen year old daughter before her everywhere like a bread cart in Paris. She might as well be shouting “Fresh young virgin (I doubt it) for the taking!” The Madames Helene Dampierre and Josephine Joussineau de Troudonnet are in open but silent battle over a certain jeweler from Pairs who has for sale the most stunning earbobs in emeralds and diamonds. They both want those jewels to lure his majesty to there beds. As if earrings could catch a king over charm and style and a perfectly powdered bosom.
As for me I am standing back and watching the entertainment from a safe distance. I did not come to court to make a fool of myself. No, on the contrary I came to court to make a name for myself and to better my lot in life. In other words I shall find small ways to comfort his majesty’s grief, to be of assistance in any way I can. In short I shall dab a bit of “Pommade de Florence” in a few well chosen strategic places, bide my time and in so doing become indispensable to the King.
Other than that, not much is going on at Versailles.
I hope all is well with you? Don’t lose your head to some rich Venetian and keep your sights on the Doge. We must make our way in this world the best we can with the talents that god gave us as women.
Yours ever and always,
Photograph of young Louis XIV – The Sun King by Alexia Sinclair
Fleur de Louis by Arquiste is inspired by the moment when King Louis XIV first laid eyes upon his young Spanish bride Marie Theresa of Spain. They met at the Isle of Pheasants near the city of Irun on the border of France and Spain in 1660. The meeting was not only to present the young princess to the King but to ensure peace between France and Spain. As it is today it was not considered good luck in the 17th Century to see the bride before the wedding but Louis being bold and of an entitled nature presented himself to King Philip IV and his daughter. To avert the awkward moment the Spanish King pretended not to see Louis and his daughter being a proper catholic princess blushed and lowered her eyes. But not before she got an spectacular eyeful of her future.
This perfume created by Rodrigo Flores-Roux for Carlos Huber’s Arquiste line captures the splendor and elegance of the age of the Sun King. It opens with a gorgeous African Orange blossom that Louis who was known as the sweetest smelling monarch in Europe loved. This orange note also brings in a touch of Spain and the Infanta Marie Theresa. Rose, jasmine signify the favorite perfume of the King, L’Eau d’Ange. Under this is a warm iris note supported by an earthy deep royally rich Orris which gives a nod to the ladies of the French court who wore Pomade de Florence which the king loved. In the base is a sturdy cedar note that blends with a fresh bright pine note. These wood notes add a strong masculine support the waning notes in the dry down. I find that even though it is marketed to women Fleur de Louis is very much a uni-sex fragrance fit for a King and his consort (and however many mistresses he may have).
It is delicate, refined and quite beautiful and falls in feeling somewhere between a classic eau de cologne and a fine perfume. One might expect that description to mean it smells old fashioned. Not at all in fact, I find this perfume to be youthful, bright and full of colorful nuances. Both the sillage and longevity are of a moderate nature. It projects at about arms length which I find perfect and lasts on my skin around six hours.
This sophisticated and beautiful perfume is indeed a royal treasure to be enjoyed by all who wish to share the moment of promise that once enfolded a king and queen at the dawn of the Sun King’s reign.
FLEUR de LOUIS BY ARQUISTE FIVE GOLD STARS *****