Mademoiselle Paradis

6

Mademoiselle Paradis is a 2018 German-language, 18th-century film about a real-life blind pianist — Maria Theresia von Paradis — who was briefly treated by doctor Franz Mesmer. His treatments, based on an invisible “energy” (his last name is the origin of the English word “mesmerize”), actually start to work, but then Paradis starts to lose her ability to play piano…

The real Maria Theresia Paradis by Faustine Parmantié, 1784, National Library of Austria

The real Maria Theresia Paradis by Faustine Parmantié, 1784, National Library of Austria

It’s an interesting film with some overall nice costumes, and it recently became available for streaming in the U.S. on Amazon. I definitely recommend it for an unusual storyline and the performance by lead actress Maria Dragus.

mademoiselle paradis (2017)

Dragus as Paradis.

The costumes were designed by Veronika Albert, who has mostly done contemporary-set, German movies. This film takes place in 1776-77, and Albert does a good job with getting the era right. There’s a lot of robes à la française (sack-back gowns), a few gowns that are more anglaise in style, and she uses mostly appropriate fabrics with a few too many obviously machine-embroidered elements, but that seems par for the course these days.

Mademoiselle Paradis (2017)

When she’s dressed by her mother, Paradis primarily wears heavy, clunky robes à la française, demonstrating how much she’s controlled by her well-meaning but bumbling parents.

mademoiselle paradis (2017)

This stripey française with lots of stomacher bows is her main “fancy” dress.

Mademoiselle Paradis (2017)

The trimming is a bit overwrought.

mademoiselle paradis (2017)

Mesmer encourages Paradis to dress simply while she’s staying with him. The servant outfit’s is very obviously influenced by Liotard’s The Chocolate Girl.

Jean-Etienne Liotard, The Chocolate Girl, around 1744 - 1745, Old Masters Picture Gallery Dresden

Jean-Etienne Liotard, The Chocolate Girl, around 1744 – 1745, Old Masters Picture Gallery Dresden

Mademoiselle Paradis (2017)

I like that she clearly isn’t wearing stays with this dress.

Mademoiselle Paradis (2017)

But I question the princess seam on this jacket (and the paisley-esque fabric).

mademoiselle paradis (2017)

Mesmer and his wife. His outfit was REALLY bright on screen, and that embroidery is so obviously machine made — and I question those flowers, which look almost Hawaiian to me!

mademoiselle paradis (2017)

The rest of the cast looks mostly good.

mademoiselle paradis (2017)

Although somebody winged the fit on the back of mom’s dress here.

mademoiselle paradis (2017)

Aaaand inappropriate seams lurked where they shouldn’t.

mademoiselle paradis (2017)

At the end of the film, the dress style changes to show the progression of time, which I liked. What I didn’t like was that this dress obviously has a back closure, although I laughed because they used hanging tales on that neck ribbon to hide whatever closure they had when they shot from the back!

mademoiselle paradis (2017)

The hair was great. Paradis wears a clunky wig for public occasions, but again, the clunkiness works because 1) her mother is choosing things for her, and 2) she’s dressed up like a trick pony, and 3) her life is oppressive. Note dad’s wig on the right, though, with FABULOUS toupee (the rolled/high top).

mademoiselle paradis (2017)

This guy on the left shows how nicely they did the back of the men’s wigs. SOMEONE UNDERSTANDS THE BASIC SHORT/LONG THING IN 18TH C. MEN’S WIGS. I FEEL SO UNDERSTOOD!

mademoiselle paradis (2017)

Mom’s hairstyles ROCKED.

Lauenbergers Genealogischen Kalendar für 1780: Coëffures Berlinoises, Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, 1779

It totally reminded me of those really angled styles you see in the late 1770s, like this one: Lauenbergers Genealogischen Kalendar für 1780: Coëffures Berlinoises, Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, 1779, Rijksmuseum

Gallerie des Modes et Costumes Francais, depuis 1776, B 8 : Coeffure en rouleaux (...), anonymous, c. 1776, Rijksmuseum

Or this: Gallerie des Modes et Costumes Francais, depuis 1776, B 8 : Coeffure en rouleaux (…), anonymous, c. 1776, Rijksmuseum

mademoiselle paradis (2017)

There wasn’t much in the way of hats except for these, which were so good I had to screencap. FLOOOOF!

 

Any thoughts on Mademoiselle Paradis?

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

6 Responses

  1. yosa

    Oooh, I just saw the lead actress in a German tv production of “A Dangerous Fortune” written by Ken Follett. She was grand in it- her resting bitch face is epic. I’ll check this one out

    Reply
  2. Saraquill

    Why is it you like the missing stays in that one outfit? I’m more familiar with corset-less complaints here.

    Reply
    • Kendra

      Oh, because she was specifically asked by Mesmer to dress simply, so it made sense within the plot. Sorry, I didn’t explain that well!

      Reply
  3. Patrick

    Oh I am so honoured to see mentioning a film from my own country (Austria) here on my new favourite Website. I saw the film almost a year ago at a small cinema in Vienna and was fascinated by the main actress and her ability to play the blindness that well. It was really a good entertaining and I loved the Feeling for the era with the set and the costumes <3

    Reply
    • Damnitz

      I saw this film and think that for a German language film the costumes are quiet good (there is many bad stuff in Television for a decade). Most importantly no stupid looking aristocrats. What I didn’t like is that many suits don’t fit the actors, which should be from the high Society and would not wear second hand clothing. What I really dislike are all those completely wrong waistcoats like these on Monsieur Paradis. Should they be long or shout they be short? I have the Impression that the designer didn’t know. The length would be OK, if there would be some laps.
      If I remember it right some working class clothes were just completely wrong.

      Although the costumes are not really good, the film is good because most actors did remarkably well.

      I wonder that you didn’t mentioned the 2 parts TV-film “Maria Theresia” which had run on arte. Many stuff to discuss about. Although I think that there is much wrong there, at last the actresses are wearing corsets and Marie-Luise Stockinger did a good Job – although she is maybe looking too beautiful for the historical queen.

      Reply

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