The extravagence of Marie Antoinette's fashions drew criticism about the Queen's frivolous nature, and Marie Antoinette's mother—the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa—chided her for these excesses.
Marie Antoinette responded to her mother by claiming that she was merely following French fashion. Although, in many ways, it was the queen herself who set the standard for trends of the time.
As the new wife of the crown prince, her one legitimate function was to produce offspring, but the young heir seemed unable to do this part at the beginning. She had her first child only after eight and a half fruitless years; and after four of them, the new queen began to focus her creative energy on clothes. She didn't invent fashions. She promoted radical new ones through her public persona, in the modern, celebrity-culture way—and that's why we like her today, instead of automatically despising her as the last century did.
Marie Antoinette was not a beauty, but she was an enchantress, effortlessly wearing the wildest fashions with the utter conviction of a star. It was soon obvious that her expensive modern glamour was enhancing only herself, not the monarchy.
Most shocking in Queen Marie Antoinette was her extravagance, well-documented in the yearly records of her clothing expenses, in dressmakers' accounts, and in memoirs saying that the queen wore nothing twice. Worse was the expensive toy farm she built at the Petit Trianon, complete with livestock and crops, where her friends played at being milkmaids and shepherdesses. It's still considered her chief crime, but the queen had no sense of its effect. The French treasury was depleted, the deficit increasing, the people protesting against unbearable taxes and shortages, but Marie Antoinette, never taught to consider the people's troubles, had no clue. That is why Marie Antoinette earned the nickname of "Madame Déficit" in the summer of 1787 as a result of the public perception that she had singlehandedly ruined the finances of the nation.
The trailer for the new movie "Farewell, My Queen" starring Diane Kruger, on Marie Antoinette and her relationship between one of her readers during the final days of the French Revolution.