Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France during the French Revolution, is famous for callously remarking “Let them eat cake“, the traditional translation of the French phrase “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche“. Legend has it that this was her response when told that the peasants had no bread to eat. Did she really say this? Probably not. There are similar stories found in other parts of the world, with variations, used to illustrate how out of touch aristocrats and the ruling classes are with common folk. For example, there is a 16th century German story in which a noblewoman asks why the starving poor don’t just eat Krosen, or sweet bread.
If Marie-Antoinette did not say this, how sad that she is remembered for an untruth. These days, however, the obliviousness of the spoiled and privileged to the plight of the poor is there for all to see social media in Twitter, Facebook, the press, and news reports, and cannot be denied.
Currently, while many celebrities go out of their way to project an image of wealth and indulgence, others realise that, given that their privilege is a result of having been lucky enough to have been born into royalty or elected to public office, unbridled spending and displays of insensitivity will lead to ridicule and rejection.
The Queen and other members of the British royal family are a great example of recycling outfits and younger royals are happy to wear high street fashions. The right choice of outfit is so important. Showing up in a poor area dressed in designer creations is as inappropriate as wearing jeans to a ball.
Two high profile women recently broke the rules and caused an explosion of derision in social media and the press. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s Scottish-born wife, actress Louise Linton, became the object of scorn and ridicule when she posted what has been described a ‘poor shaming rant’ on Instagram, gushing about her Roland Mouret pants, Tom Ford sunglasses, Hermes scarf, and Valentino Rock Stud Heels. Strangely, she actually did play the part of Marie-Antoinette in a film!
She has now been joined by Melania Trump, who saw fit to visit disaster stricken Texas wearing needle-thin stiletto heels. These shoes, teamed with black skinny pants, black sunglasses, and a green bomber jacket, were altogether unsuitable for the occasion. Just as well she had changed into some pristine, sparkling white sneakers when the plane landed. However, her elitist, expensive stilettos made the headlines.
Even great fashionista Princess Diana knew when it was time to kick off the heels and wear some wellies.
Juliet Anne Allaway