The influence of Empress Eugenie on the fashion of her time is undeniable. Her support for Charles Frederick Worth, the first “grand-couturier” in history, the famous “political dresses” that she insisted on wearing to official events and her very good taste were the driving force behind the nascent fashion industry. The Château de Pierrefonds was one of the showcases of this phenomenon.
THE COURT ON TOUR
Excursions to Pierrefonds Castle during the Second Empire were one of the symbols of Napoleon III and Eugenie’s reign.
Every year, the imperial couple welcomed several hundred prestigious guests to the forest of Compiègne, who came to enjoy themselves and to show themselves. Cultural but also social, these visits attracted a new kind of society. Princes, ministers and ambassadors, great industrialists and renowned artists were invited. Among them were also the “élégantes” who would make the court famous. A highlight of the social season, the Séries de Compiègne is an unmissable event.
One of the most popular attractions was the visit to the Pierrefonds restoration site by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. In 1857, the Emperor decided to rebuild the ruins of this fortress into a new imperial residence in the purest neo-Gothic style.
The Empress Eugenie set the tone for the entertainment. Lace, brocade, silk and trimmings made the factories in Calais, Saint-Etienne and Lyon famous. The dress code she imposed on the court and the orders she placed with the greatest “fashion designers” of her time encouraged the emergence of a new style, which was relayed in France and Europe.
This phenomenon was accompanied by a taste for finery, sometimes expressed with exuberance by some. A new artistic medium emblematic of the emerging modern world, photography established itself as the direct competitor of the painted portrait. Access to representation was democratised, the power of the image was exacerbated and combined with fashion to set the Grande-Couture in history.
AROUND THE EXHIBITION
Discovery tours, themed tours, workshops for children and two superb evening balls…
The programme (link in French)
Don’t miss > the Empress’s Ball on 4 September 8.30-11pm
Open every day – included in the entrance ticket
Individual rate 8 €
Under 18s Free
18-25 year olds from the European Union Free
Information and booking by telephone or e-mail to the château email@example.com / 03 44 42 72 72
Opening hours :
9.30am to 6pm from 2 May to 4 September
10:00 am to 5:30 pm from 5 September to 30 April
Last admission 1 hour before closing time