Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sisi's Beauty Regimen

In Winterhalter's famous portrait the Empress Elisabeth of Austria wears glittering diamond stars in her rich, brown hair and a diaphanous gown. She looks so beautiful that it is not surprising that she was compared to the Fairy-Queen, Titania. Her beauty came at a price, however. The rather vain Queen spent hours caring for her hair, skin and figure.

Sisi's Figure

Empress Elisabeth, nicknamed 'Sisi', had a 19 inch waist. She was very proud of this and tried hard to stay thin. Many historians think that she had anorexia because she was constantly dieting and hardly ate.

Sisi was also a great believer in tight-lacing, which would have accentuated her small waist. This practice was very dangerous, causing women to faint and even have shortness of breath.

The Queen's addiction to exercise concerned many. It was regarded as rather eccentric. She practised gymnastics, even swinging along on the rings and liked to go on long hikes.

Sisi was also one of the best equestrians of her age. She went hunting with the wildest riders in England and Ireland, including the dangerous rider, Bay Middleton, and she even indulged in circus tricks. She took her riding extremely seriously.


Sisi's lavish chestnut brown hair was almost floor-length. She regarded it as her greatest asset and she engaged a former theatre hairdresser, Fanny Angerer, to care for it. This shocked the court, especially her mother-in-law, Archduchess Sophie. Fanny received the very high annual salary of 2000 guldens.

Sisi's hair was washed every three weeks - usually with a mixture of cognac and egg. This usually took all day. About three hours per day was spent caring for Empress Elisabeth's beautiful hair.


One of Sisi's face masks is not recommended. She apparently liked to use raw veal! Another face mask was made of strawberries, which would be much nicer to use. She also liked to use rose petals and herbal ingredients.

Warm olive baths were also a favourite of the Empress.


Cheryl Anderson Brown said...

You and I must have a psychic connection! I have just re-read Joan Haslip's bio of the empress and was thinking of writing about her on my blog! It is really amazing that she had so much energy when she really didn't eat anything. According to Haslip, the police of the various countries she visited often complained that they could not keep up with her--even asking if they could follow her in a carriage although she was on foot! She maintained that frantic pace until the day she was murdered at age 60.

Viola said...

Hello Cheryl,

Thank you for your comment. I agree that we must have a psychic connection! It's nice to think so!

There's certainly plenty of material on Sisi - she led a very interesting life.

I am reading 'The Reluctant Empress' by Bridget Hamann. Hamann isn't very sympathetic but she is quite fair in her portrayal, I think.

Matterhorn said...

Apparently Sissi passed on some of her beauty secrets to her niece and god-daughter, Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, but fortunately the younger Elisabeth wasn't *so* preoccupied with her appearance.

Viola said...

Hi Matterhorn,

Thank you for commenting. I didn't know that Empress Elisabeth passed on her beauty secrets!

Which link are you referring to?

Matterhorn said...

I guess you have seen it now because it seems to be working, but I meant the link for the Anastasia bra.

Viola said...

Hi Matterhorn,

Thank you very much again. The bra is a bit too ornate, I think.

Maho Lucil said...

Did you know that Strawberries can be used for conditioning your hair and toning the skin. It also lightens any skin pigmentation problems which makes your skin smooth and beautiful. It contains salicylic acid that effectively removes acne and blackheads. For women looking for the best eye cream, you can always check the label and look if it contains argirelene, haloxychamomile, plantain, plant and fruits extracts.

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