Marie-Antoinette and the color puce

Marie Antoinette Dress fragmentI wish to bring to your attention this excellent post at Glass of Fashion.

Indeed it is Louis XVI, with his wry sense of humor, who coined the term puce (which means “flea” in French) to describe the color of one of Marie-Antoinette’s dresses.

That was years before the French Revolution, but she obviously loved that shade of light brown: she still wore it while jailed at the tower of the Temple, as attested by this dress fragment sold at auction by Christie’s for a rather astonishing $76,000.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

14 Comments to “Marie-Antoinette and the color puce”

  1. GEMMAyR18 says:

    Very often the communication and media essays writing play very big function in college student’s life period and almost every one guy has got a practice of term papers purchasing. Thus, it’s a common thing for such students.

  2. Catherine, thanks for the link

  3. Catherine Delors says:

    Thanks, Gabriella! I find it a fun way to keep track of the passage of time during this trying year.

  4. Gabriela says:


    Thanks so much for posting this! Love it!

    ~ Gabriela ~

  5. How fascinating! Louis was so twee :)

    ps. Love your book ;)

  6. How fascinating! Louis was so twee :)

    ps. Love your book ;)

  7. How fascinating! Louis was so twee :)

    ps. Love your book ;)

  8. Ellen Moody says:

    I agree the word sounds awful. Perhaps we connect it to “puke.” I thought it was a soft lovely brown; that is, didn’t know that it could be a number of colors.

    I enjoyed reading the review of _Cheri_. I’m not that surprized the film is superficial. I’m not that keen on Colette’s Cheri books.

    Ellen :)

  9. Judith says:

    Hi Catherine,
    Wonderful post. I have often heard of the fashion of coming up with new colors in her time and always wondered what the color puce actually looked like! Now I know and it’s origin! Perfect!!!

  10. Felio Vasa says:

    At this time wasn’t it the rave to come up with these new colors/hues taken from nature?

  11. Catherine Delors says:

    Well, Penny, it is a nice, understated, soft color. But from her portraits I believe Marie-Antoinette also loved reds (a taste I share with her.)

  12. Penny says:

    For me, what saves that piece is the lace and pattern. NO wonder Christies did not make much on it. wonder if it says something about her true feelings of herself? not sure what, though.

  13. Catherine Delors says:

    And you were right, Amanda! Puce is indeed pretty gross. Blame it on Louis XVI’s quirky humor.

  14. Amanda says:

    Oh I never knew that! I always wondered about the naming of that color since the word “puce” sounds so gross. Thanks!

Leave a Reply