empress pink

hofburg dressing room

Fainting couches were necessary due to the corsets.

Pink is the new pink. Always.


It's the parquet and pink room at the kaiservilla in bad ischl

Though hardly a “girlie-girl,” as a trendsetter I have to admit, rose flattered me much more than, say, yellow. It brought out the health and vitality in my cheeks (thanks to my regime of drinking a vial of stag blood each day, I was spared much of the anemia that befell other royals). Deep-toned pink  suggests femininity, but points also to romance, energy, fascination, and, naturally, beauty.

pink corset

Note: this short-waister accentuates the bosom, rather than hiding it. Jus' sayin...

I filled my apartments with shades of pink. The salon in my summer home boasted pink upholstery. The lying-down room at the Hof. Ballgowns and bedclothes and schnitzel with noodles…oops! wrong pull.

Anyhow, no discussion of pink is complete without mentioning the unmentionables, yes? I owned many a salmon-hued corset: frilly-edged or plain, it mattered not, as long as the busking was of good baleen or cane, and the grommets were made of steel!

diamonds are an empress’s best friend

What’s an elaborate hairstyle without a tiara, yes? For all you crown aficionados, here is a delightful (albeit LONG) presentation of European royal headdresses. Note, my various crowns are nowhere to be found in this line up, thought plenty of my sisters’ and cousins’ bling-ridden hair ornaments are shown. Extra credit to those who can pick them out!

*This just in! For all you royal enthusiasts. Kate’s wedding dress is on display!

For those of you who wish to view yours truly under cover of crown, I submit the following:

The sepia tone does this one well, don't you think?

This so, so Austrian, these colors and this expression. This is my least favorite head-bling, but I think the neck band quite fetching.

Now here's a good view of the diamonds. And don't I look busty in this one!

Last but not least, the veil view. The amber background suits my coloring, yes?

o dear. here comes the sun.

Here I am in Corfu, with my trusty sun protection at hand.

Summer has arrived in the Northern hemisphere, and, like all Imperial ladies, I cannot endure the out-of-doors without my trusty parasol.

It is of unceasing amazement that in modern times not only do women frolic about unprotected from the sun, but, should their days require too much time spent indoors, they flock to boutiques that specialize in cooking their skin to the color of dung and consistency of leather!

Now, I am a fan of nature, of sun, and fresh air. Of mountains and the sea. Of hours unbidden to trek amongst the Edelweiss. That opening image from Sound of Music? The nun lifting her fair face to the sky? Well, the spirit of that shot has always lain deep within me. However, we ladies have our rules, and I submit, forthwith:

1. One must carry a light-coloured parasol over the left shoulder at an angle to shield from the right

2. In the right hand, one must hold a fan for extra sun protection, and to keep perspiration at bay.

3. In times of dust, the veil is a lady’s best friend. (And it also protects from unwanted staring, should one be required to tarry about a public square.)

4. Hats. Thanks to Kate, they are increasingly popular amongst the well-bred. In the 19th century–not so much. Hats were tolerated for the children, but I never could bear the damage to my carefully tended coif.

In conclusion, I must issue this warning to all you devotees of the tanning bed: it is the work of the devil, and will soon bring its unfortunate consequences. Get thee to a remedy post-haste! Find your local apothecary and stock up on slug-creme!

my hairstyles on display. using genuine hair!

my hair was my crown, but much more difficult to take off at night!

Since I am widely known as a coiffure icon, it is only fitting that, at long last, my trendsetting hairstyles (such as the one to the left) are now on display at the Sisi Museum.

Finally, a realistic representation of the lavish and painstaking details of my plaited garland. If you care to read the accompanying display literature, you’ll note my disdain and refusal to have my tresses arranged in the lumpy kob of nape known as the Cadogan (see diagram below).

the hideous cadogan was all the rage for men and women. I refused to follow that trend!

The museum saw fit to feature three versions of my most oft-worn hairstyles–and they are made from genuine hair! (Not mine, of course, for that would be rather macabre, don’t you agree?)

Rather than wear my hair in boring knots and knobs, I took my inspiration from the actresses of the day. The fancy Opera singers and their more fascinating coiffures piled and plaited and curled. Ah, but having hair such as mine was a blessing and a curse. For three hours each day I sat in one place while Fanny, my hairdresser, fiddled and fussed. And that precludes the egg yolk and brandy treatments I succumbed to each and every fortnight!

The brushes, the combs, the flat irons! Indeed, it’s quite possible that the modern curling iron was perfected due to its application on hair such as mine. See for yourself. And, in particular, the salon history buffs among you, do not leave the museum without investigating the curling tongs and blades in the front cabinet (I understand it’s located near the turnstile).

of beauty and fascination. rule the third.

as joyous as the first birdsong in spring, so is the melody of a well-tempered voice.

Let me tell you a little story about the power of a lovely voice.

There was a woman of my acquaintance in Berlin, a dumpy countess she was. Her eyes were dull, her skin, rough. She was cursed with a dingy complexion and the coarse hair of an aging nag. Nonetheless, they called her “siren,” and she had a great many lovers, and she never wanted for company. Why? Well, when she opened her mouth, we all flocked round, just for a sample of her sweet, buttery voice.

The converse of this, we ladies have all born witness. I reference here the voluptuous beauty who would do much better should she feign muteness. There is the rasper, the nasal-speaker, the grown woman with the voice of a child–high-pitched and squealing at a volume that causes hounds to howl.

Dear ones, we must tender our vocal chords with honey and low tones. Practice, too, appropriate annunciation that conveys correct emotion. For instance: the exhilaration of mirth, the profound sighs of sadness, the trembling interrupted sobbing of grief. Our voice is indeed the instrument of our soul, and like that ugly countess learned, it is an asset that can open more doors than you might know.

Gentlemen, your seduction-of-the-day tip is below.

If you can affect effeminacy and lisping softness in your speech, do so. Mimic the castrato at your favorite opera, in fact, as it will associate you, in the lady’s mind, with the charming subject of the music, and render in her brain that quavers and unmeaning words are part of the package (that also includes, of course, much less-soft manly parts).

of beauty and fascination. rule the second.

This Lely painting of Mary Moll Davis demonstrates the rather passive "come hither" associated with bedroom eyes.

Today’s entry will cover eyes in all manner. We will discuss gaze, expression, adornment, lashes, brows and veiling, and when we get to the gentlemen, the ever-popular “wandering of the eye.”


There is no more wretched deformity to a woman than a certain unnatural and studied languishing of the eyes, which vain and silly women sometimes affect. Ladies. Do. Not. Do. This. Bedroom eyes are for the meek, the tired and the stupid. I am much more a fan of enlisting methods to encourage bright, engaging eyes.

There is an interesting Spanish custom of squeezing oranges into the eyes to promote a  sparkling, brilliant look–but I do not recommend that method other than for a very special occasion now and again. (By far the best recipe for bright eyes is to keep good hours. Just enough regular and natural sleep is the great enkindler of woman’s most charming light.)

Now, when it comes to embellishments, I can not counsel enough on staying true to nature. A fair complected lady, for instance, is generally accompanied by blue eyes, light eyebrows and eyelashes. Likewise, a brunette shall keep with darker, heavier lashes and brows. Experimentation is allowed, once in a while, but should you ever take pencil to brow I implore you, do not resort to the frightful distortion of nature by scraping charcoal or kohl on alabaster skin!

Before we leave the ladies, I must provide caution against the use of white veils. Scarcely anything can strain and jade and injure the eye more than this practice. Peering through the netting of a veil continually will certainly lead to the eyes forming permanent squint lines.

Here's the classic leerers stare displayed by the gamey fellow playing King Henry VIII ala the Tudors. Being a schmuck worked out pretty well for the rogue, yes?


You will make an immense hit with the ladies by pretending to be no admirer of any particular woman, but a professed adorer and slave of the whole sex. You will be particularly sought after if you make a habit of staring insultingly at every pretty woman you meet. Extra credit if you allow you tongue to creep out between your lips. And I do mean creep.

of beauty and fascination. rule the first.

ladies: gather ye roses while ye may...

In answer to more and more frequent requests for my beauty secrets (as well as tips for gentlemen on the art of fascination), I here-to-for submit a collection of my top counsel, which will appear once a day over the course of the next ten days.

I must admit, however, that when it comes to this prescript, I have my mentor, Lola Montez to thank, as she taught me everything she knows, and much of my wisdom comes from this wondrous little book: The Arts of Beauty or Secrets of a Lady’s Toilet, penned approximately 150 years ago.

For the Ladies: Beauty of Deportment.

For a young girl to sit as grave and stiff as her grandmother cut in alabaster is bad enough. But not half as unseemly as that of a middle-aged woman who insists on romping about with the merriment of girlhood. Not only must a woman’s age be consulted, but her manners ought to harmonize with her shape and size.

Ladies, take a page from the book of vegetables. The poplar, the willow, the lily, they bend their gentle heads in the breeze as nature recommends. Whereas the steadfast oak and the boxwood hedge look best when displaying a majestic mien.

On to the gentlemen.

If you wish to make one of our sex tremendously in love with you, remember this: women prefer triflers to men of sense. In other words, practice making yourself as big an ass as possible, and you will find yourself rewarded for your efforts.

Your hope of complete success, then, lies in your ability to be a coxcomb, who has no earthly recommendation but his face, his coat, and his impudence.

empress of the month: eugenie

here she sits amid her ladies in a portrait by winterhalter (who, by the way, also painted yours truly)

She was the last French Empress, and quite a charmer, that María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick. She lived to the ripe age of 94, and was best known for starting up the caged crinolines fad (that, and a primary role in the ill-fated French intervention in Mexico).She was 26 when she wed Napoleon III, much to the disapproval of the snooty House of Bonaparte, but marry she did, dutifully producing an heir before closing her bed to her increasingly lecherous and obese husband (who satisfied his seeming bottomless appetite for the fair sex with countless public affairs).

In our day, an Empress set trends, and Eugenie was no exception. What initially was thought a scandal turned Paris on its ear in 1862 when the Empress got it in her little head to appear in public without a shawl. After the society hags simmered down women everywhere began to attend functions without cloaks and shawls, freeing them up to display their dresses without cover, and creating quite a ripple in the fashion world.

And, of course, other than me, Eugenie was the only decent rider among empresses of our day. In fact, it was her horseback prowess that first led to her husband’s initial interest in courting her (or so the gossip goes).

Eugenie's wedding ensemble, described in the London Times, 1853: White epiglé velvet, with rather large basque and demi-train. A veil of point d’Angleterre flowed from underneath a rich diadem sparkling with diamonds.

We were often referred to as “rivals.” How silly! Eugenie had a much more sophisticated style. Just look at her bridal get-up below. I was much more given to practicality. Well, as long as my waist was cinched in tight.

So, what do the Empress Eugenie and I have in common? Well, our “fancy ephemera” is featured on the Royal Paper Dolls website, along with Norway’s Queen Maude and the Peacock Princess.


la grande horizontele

the legend lives on

Lola Montez was an Irish-born tart who passed for Spanish. She was a mediocre dancer and a whore of much renown, and she hastened the ousting of my Uncle Ludwig, who had the misfortune to, um, date her.

But all that aside, you have to admire her moxie.

Her legacy lives on, I’m somewhat amazed to report, in the following:

But of all the Homage du Lola, I am most supremely fascinated by the book penned in her own hand, namely, Arts of Beauty: Or Secrets of a Lady’s Toilet, With Hints to Gentlemen on the Art of Fascinating.

In this hundred-and-fifty-year-old how-to book, you’ll find all sorts of 19th century seductive secrets, including this one for getting rid of the gray:

note the fey use of the fan. ha!

Gather 10 grams of gallic acid, 1 ounce of acetic acid y 1 ounce of tincture of sesqui-chloride of iron. Dissolve the gallic acid in the tincture of sesqui-chloride of iron, and then add the acetic acid. Before using this preparation, the hair should be thoroughly washed with soap and water. The way to apply the compound is to dip the points of a fine tooth comb into it until the interstices are fill with the fluid, then gently draw the comb through the hair, commencing at the roots, till the dye has perceptibly taken effect. When the hair is entirely dry, oil and brushes (sic) it as usual.

The book contains, besides recipes and methods for all the aspects of the feminine beauty, some recommendations for gentlemen as well, but the real gem of her well-researched counsel lies in this passage:

Many women who can lay no claim to a beautiful face, have carried captive the hearts of plenty of men by the beauty of their form.

And by form, Lola means, naturally,  T & A.

Ah. Well, it is the oldest profession, after all.

the battle hymn of the tight-lacer

an example of an ineffective corset, split down the front and made of wool, of all things.

As Empress, my first political duty was to breed, and I performed well. Girl, girl, heir, all before my 21st birthday. I don’t need to tell you girls what that does to a figure, yes?

At 172 cm and 50 kilos my whole adult life (other than the wretched pregnancies), many called my dieting regime excessive. Fine. Call it what you will, but I feel quite wounded when I endure criticism of my lacing practice–which kept my waist no bigger around than a young boy’s thigh. You see, tight-lacing sustained me. Made me feel secure, of one piece. Dainty and solid all at once.

Alas, fashion worked against me and my quest for continued perfection. By the time I hit the ripe old age of 29, corsets began to grow soft.

You call this a corset? Why, it couldn't hold in a fart!

Whalebone stays replaced by cording, split busks laced up the middle with inferior strips of leather, cotton or twine. And I resisted them all: the tearose silk flossed with putty ribbon, peach batiste embellished with frills. Nay, my corsets were made from the hide of a mature stag. And I insisted upon being laced “into” them, from behind, and it took an hour. Yes, an hour.

My corsets were also discarded after a fortnight, once they gave up their “new corset” smell. The smell of strength. Of industry. Once a corset cracked on the eyelet, even a smidge, off it went to the poor. (Though admittedly, the poor had little use for an 18 inch corset, most likely it was used to flog soil from rugs.)

Despite my tight-lacing ways, once secured into my undergarment, I felt safe, and therefore happy. With my waist reduced to its proper dimension, I could do anything. Truly. Bound up stairs, sail through the air on my personal trapeze, even carry all three of my children on my back like a donkey.

So keep your 18-hour control top pantyhose, all you Westerners of the 21st century, as for me, I’ll remain forever virtuous and slender, laced into a corset that could hold back a swollen river in spring.