The Coquette Aesthetic Is Feminine, French and All About Bows

Like the flirty fashion that inspired it, this interior style moment blends romance and play to celebrate the sweeter things in life. Are you ready to ruffle?

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July 08, 2024
A cast iron bust of a Marie Antoinette in dappled sunlight.

Cast Iron Bust of Maria Antionette

Marie Antoinette, depicted here in a cast iron bust, is the unofficial patron saint of the coquette aesthetic.

Photo by: Shutterstock / M G White

Shutterstock / M G White

Marie Antoinette, depicted here in a cast iron bust, is the unofficial patron saint of the coquette aesthetic.

Unapologetically feminine and delightfully exaggerated, the coquette trend flounced from the runway to the driveway and has made itself at home in the interior design world. A little bit French country and a little bit rock 'n' roll (by way of Sofia Coppola’s teen-queen take on Marie Antoinette), it’s demure and assertive all at once. And introducing its sensual silhouettes, opulent materials and bows (topped with bows, topped with more bows) to your spaces could be a meet-cute for the ages. Consider these characteristically coquettish elements, then follow your heart to a personal version of this aesthetic’s je ne sais quoi.

Think Pink

Experiment with insouciance (read: lightheartedness, unconcern) by blending a bit (or broad strokes) of blush into your space’s existing palette. Starting with a minimalist, organic space? Imagine morning sun coming into the room and tinting the textiles a pale pink. Fancy more of a color-blocked, come-hither sizzle? Get bolder with more saturated tones.

This layered bedroom from HGTV Magazine showcases pink’s many moods beautifully: It’s sweet on the upholstered bed and mixed linens, then saucier in the splashes of fuchsia on the armchair and toss pillow. The room’s ruffled ottoman and curvaceous furniture are also quintessentially coquettish, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Pink Bedroom With Luxe, Vintage-Inspired Style

Feminine Bedroom With Vintage Decor

This pretty-in-pink main bedroom is full of secondhand home decor, like the art and velvet quilt, and new pieces with extra-special flair, like the CB2 lamps and quilted pink bed.

Photo by: Liz Daly

Liz Daly

This pretty-in-pink main bedroom is full of secondhand home decor, like the art and velvet quilt, and new pieces with extra-special flair, like the CB2 lamps and quilted pink bed.

Mimic Marie's Maximalism

Nevermind the whole “let them eat cake” business — there’s no proof Marie Antoinette said it in the first place, and her disregard for her subjects was not a good look.

Revisit the more-is-more Rococo grandeur of her chambers at Versailles, where gilding and chintz reigned supreme. Behold one of the Queen Consort of France’s chambers at her beloved Trianon, an estate on the palace grounds she received as a gift from her husband, Louis XVI; this was intimate by the royal family’s standards.

Room inside Versailles' Trianon Palace with coral striped sofa and coral curtains.

Grand Trianon Palace

The leopard-print carpet in Marie Antoinette's Trianon estate at Versailles is historically appropriate, believe it or not. The pattern was a fashion-forward statement in the 19th century, and Marie Antoinette was caricatured as a leopard who couldn’t change her spots when she tried to flee her palace in disguise.

Photo by: agsaz

agsaz

The leopard-print carpet in Marie Antoinette's Trianon estate at Versailles is historically appropriate, believe it or not. The pattern was a fashion-forward statement in the 19th century, and Marie Antoinette was caricatured as a leopard who couldn’t change her spots when she tried to flee her palace in disguise.

Trianon was by no means a purely pastel paradise, as you can see: The principal bedchamber was majestically magenta. Our point? Your home is your estate; don’t be afraid to go overboard there. (But do treat your neighbors better than the French aristocracy treated theirs.)

Ornate bed chamber with beige and red curtains and candelabra chandelier

Chamber of the Empress in the Grand Trianon

Marie Antoinette's chamber in Trianon was filled with magenta fabrics.

Photo by: Shutterstock / Pack-Shot

Shutterstock / Pack-Shot

Marie Antoinette's chamber in Trianon was filled with magenta fabrics.

Paris or Bust

HGTV Handmade host Rajiv Surendra channels a bit of the historic coquette in this corner of his impossibly chic, craft-and-antique-filled New York City apartment, where fantastically floral cotton lace frames a feminine bust.

An Antique Bust in Front of a Window Covered With Cotton Lace

Rajiv Surendra Shows Off His Handmade Window Treatments

Rajiv Surendra made his window treatments by hand out of cotton lace.

Photo by: Patrick Cline

Patrick Cline

Rajiv Surendra made his window treatments by hand out of cotton lace.

Put a Bow on It

Much as Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s Portlandia characters put a bird on everything in sight, it’s your mission (if you really want to commit to this coquette business) to deploy bows wherever you can. True believers practice bow stacking, which highlights existing decor and accessories with flourishes in ribbon. Think bows on mirrors and picture frames, bows on cabinet pulls and door knobs, bows on candlesticks and sconces, and so on. The key to results that read as "thoughtful and indulgent" rather than "twee vandals broke into your house and left a hastily tied mess" is the quality of the ribbon. Look for rich materials like velvet and satin, the wider the better. Keep your eyes peeled for ribbon remnants at fabric and craft stores, as well as overlooked spools at antique malls and flea markets — and feel free to repurpose bows on barrettes, since bows don't discriminate between bobs and bookcases.

Faux David of Michelangelo bust with velvet red bow

David of Michelangelo With a Bow

This lush red velvet ribbon was added for holiday flair by homeowner Leben Riebe, a vintage holiday decor collector.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Brandon Thibodeaux / Getty Images

Brandon Thibodeaux / Getty Images

This lush red velvet ribbon was added for holiday flair by homeowner Leben Riebe, a vintage holiday decor collector.

Then, Tie in Ribbon Motifs

But wait, there’s more! Get coquettish by layering your design with prints and accessories that depict bows; these are a bit more of a commitment than splashing velvet ribbon across a gallery wall or sprucing up a dining chair, to be sure, but you can rest assured that the motif isn’t going anywhere. Bows influenced jewelry design in 17th-century France, and we’re confident cyborg civilizations of the future won’t be immune from wanting to feel fancy.

Try an Over-the-Top Ottoman

If the coquette aesthetic inspires you to make a full-fledged furniture purchase, we suggest putting your feet up in high style. Since an ottoman’s primary function is decorative (get-togethers where seating is in short supply notwithstanding), it can absolutely drip with feminine finishes in a way that might feel cloying if you were to invest in a coquettish sectional (though we fully support that commitment, to be clear). If an ottoman looks like you could sit on or eat it at a tea party, its vibe is on point.

$649
PB Teen

Designed to coordinate with the rest of the PB Teen's Garden Damask collection, this round ottoman adds a charming touch to your space.

Decorate Like a Girl

It's no accident that some of the loveliest pieces in this roundup turn up via sources focused on decor for kids and teens: The coquette aesthetic's appeal is unapologetically girlish. To make the most of its elemental joys, broaden your brainstorming to include spaces and pieces intended for all ages. If they speak to you (like this beautiful bedroom, designed to delight and grow with its 9-year-old occupant), they're just right.

Floral and Pink Girl's Bedroom

Floral Girl's Bedroom With Pink Accents

This girl's bedroom is a dreamy floral escape. The bedroom design features subtle pink accents and a floral accent wall.

Photo by: Naomi Alon Coe

Naomi Alon Coe

Designed by Little Crown Interiors

Tour a Serene, Pretty-in-Pink Girls' Bedroom With Floral Wallpaper

This 9-year-old's bedroom is a dreamy, feminine space that features a cozy reading nook. This stylish space has a floral accent wall and touches of pink, creating a sweet bedroom designed to grow with the child.

Floral Feature Wall + Tufted Headboard + Curves = Coquette Aesthetic

We suspect the girl who lives in the previous bedroom would find this one pretty excellent as well — and that the adults living here would appreciate the look of hers, too.

Contemporary Master Bedroom With Floral Wallpaper And Tufted Headboard

Contemporary Master Bedroom Retreat With With Floral Accent Wall And Tufted Headboard

This contemporary master bedroom retreat features a black and white floral wallpaper accent wall, brown tufted headboard, white bed linens and bedside table and silver mirror.

Photo by: Colleen Scott Photography

Colleen Scott Photography

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