Prince’s Poo

Dan Piepenbring comments briefly in The Paris Review on a bizarre fashion trend of the eighteenth century: 

“During Marie Antoinette’s time, for instance, there was a brief craze for caca-dauphin, a shade of brown that resembled the color of the new prince Louis-Joseph’s soiled diapers. In the most fashionable circles, people dressed to celebrate the royal bowel movements.”

He quotes from Michael Taube’s  review of The Sensational Past

This awakening of our senses led to some astonishing results, from sensible to senseless . . . The citronella-based drink Water of Carmes, which supposedly ‘stimulated memory and got rid of unpleasant fantasies,’ was popular for a time. . . . A few relatively harmless drinks aside, the senses of the Enlightenment occasionally ventured into some strange territory. Take the brief rise of ‘prince poo.’ During the time of Marie Antoinette in France, wealthy individuals ‘spent the equivalent of thousands of dollars to wear the clothing the color of baby poop.’ This grotesque fashion choice was done ‘as a way to show their support for the monarchy and to demonstrate how fashionable they could be.’ There was also the cat piano. As the story goes, King Philip II of Spain brought his father, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, a ridiculous contraption in 1549 ‘with twenty rather narrow boxes, each of which contained a cat’ that would produce a ‘lamentable meowing’ when a key was pressed.

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