VERSAILLES, France (Reuters) – Hundreds of guests donned soaring wigs and elaborate 18th-century dress to indulge their royal fantasies at a ball at the Palace of Versailles on Monday, themed around one of its most infamous inhabitants – Marie-Antoinette.
Famed for her life of opulence and excess – the French Queen, one of France’s most controversial and fashionable historical figures, met her end at the guillotine in 1793, executed for high treason by the revolutionaries who had deposed and killed her husband King Louis XVI.
Some 630 guests paid between 150 and 510 euros ($168 to $570) to attend, with the most expensive tickets granting access to the whole palace and a private concert in the queen’s room.
Among the many international visitors was 37-year-old hairdresser Cody Jefferies from Houston in the United States, who had wanted to come because of his love of French fashion and history.
“This was always a dream for us to come here, and we finally made it happen,” said Jefferies, wearing a green tunic and cream waistcoat which he had sewn himself.
Guests could view the private chambers of Louis XIV and Marie-Antoinette, as well as areas usually closed to the public, such as the chapel and the apartments of Madame Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV.
“People come from all over the world… from the Far East, Russia, all over Europe, the United States, Australia. And they have the night of their dreams here, because there’s no palace more beautiful than Versailles,” said Laurent Brunner, Director of the Palace of Versailles.
“We open up all the rooms in this palace for them, even the Hall of Mirrors where they get to dance, which is a kind of dream for them,” he added.
Reporting by Reuters Television; Editing by Alexandra Hudson