Upcoming: “Versailles,” Currently in Production


Sarah posted back in August about a new costume TV series just coming together called Versailles, which will tell the story of Louis XIV. There’s still not much information out about it, except for a few French news articles, and this British article that reports on how French critics are angry that this is a British production (note: none of the images in that article are from this production). However, doing some scouring has dug up a little bit, so since I’m excited about this show, here’s what I’ve found!

A French article in LesEchos.fr tells us the following:

  • The building of Versailles will be central to the plot.
  • Release is scheduled for September 2015.
  • A huge budget of 27 million, twice that of Downton Abbey‘s.
  • Filmed in France, but in English.
  • Interiors are being filmed in a studio in Bry-sur-Marne, where apparently some of the Hunger Games was filmed.
  • Set decoration and costumes represent 12% of the budget.
  • The four or five costumes worn by the principals were custom made, cost thousands of Euros each, and were designed by Madeleine Fontaine, who has won two Césars (the French Oscar) and worked on Yves Saint Laurent [and, I will add, Amélie and A Very Long Engagement].
  • “Certainly, the production maintained a certain artistic freedom. Thus the ritual of the king’s clothing [or, “the ritual of dressing the king” — proofread my French!] is not reproduced in its entirety, “because it would take too long,” says Madeline Fontaine. But a look into the series’ workshop at the hundreds of pieces resembles a course in the history of costume: petticoats, friponnes, discrètes, secrètes [supposedly all refer to different layers of under-petticoats], women’s costumes side by side with men’s, breeches, Rhinegraves, doublets and jerkins in a symphony of silks, brocades and taffetas …”
  • Set decoration is by Katia Wyszkop (Farewell, My Queen), “…composed of pieces carefully designed to reproduce Louis XIII’s hunting lodge that Louis XIV transformed into a sizable castle during his reign.”
  • The story centers on how Versailles allowed Louis XIV to subdue the French nobility and centralize the state around himself.
  • The cast includes George Blagden (Louis XIV), Alexander Vlahos (Monsieur, the king’s brother), Dominique Blanc (Anne of Austria), and Amira Casar (a court lady).
  • It’s taken five years to get the production started, due to financing.
  • Originally the showrunners were going to be Andre and Maria Jacquemetton, who worked on Mad Men. Now it’s Simon Mirren and David Wolstencroft.
  • They worked for a while on trying to set up shooting in Prague, apparently because they were having problems shooting in France due to the production being in English (but it seems like some kind of regulation about this has been relaxed?).
  • George Blagden is quoted as saying that this role is the role of a lifetime.

The only images coming out so far are from the Twitter feeds of the actors, so they are mostly badly lit selfies with the actors joking around, but here are the few that give us a glimpse of what this might look like:

Versailles (2015-18)

Sarah Winters (Reign, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell) as Louise de la Valliere and George Blagden (Vikings) as Louis XIV

2015-18 Versailles

Louis XIV with his younger self.

2015-18 Versailles

Philippe, duc d’Orleans (aka Monsieur, Alexander Vlahos)

2015-18 Versailles 2015-18 Versailles

We’ll keep you posted as we find out more information or more photos!


About the author



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.

4 Responses

  1. Joanne Renaud

    The mens’ hair is a bit flat, but I love the ladies’ costumes and hair. Behold the frou! I’m really excited to see this.

    • Kendra

      Yeah, I’m with you! And maybe they’ll bring in full bottomed wigs as things progress? Probably wishful thinking…

  2. Isis

    It looks far better than some 17th Century Movies that have been produced/are being produced lately, at least.

    Lets hope the hair gets better. There are some more flat hairstyles Before the Allonge really became a hit, i. e. when Louis lost his hair, so perhaps this is used to indicate youth. The did that with Rufus Sewell in Charles II, after all.