Versailles Castle / Partnership
Wigs at Versailles

A project carried out by the Children's Hospital Margency (HEM), establishment of the French Red Cross, in partnership with the Palace of Versailles and the visual artist Caroline Desnoëttes, and part of the regional program "Culture at the hospital 2019" within the "Culture and Health" general policy.

It has benefited from the financial support of the HEM, the DRAC and ARS Île-de-France and the association Sur un Lit de Couleurs as well as the patronage of Transdev.

156 young patients created 30 wigs with medical and care equipment. They were photographed with these amazing adornments at the Palace of Versailles by Fabrice Gaboriau.
These portraits are exhibited from October 21st to November 5th, 2019. The exhibition "Escale à Versailles Coiffé / Décoiffé" at the Girandole Grove will be extended by 2 weeks.
Link: Coiffé / Décoiffé Catalogue at Versailles

Thanks to:

  • Catherine Pégard, President of the Public Establishment of the Palace, the Museum and the National Gardens of Versailles.
  • Jean-Jacques Eledjam, President of the French Red Cross.
  • Fatima Oudghiri, Director of Margency Children's Hospital, (HEM) French Red Cross.
  • Nasser Bouaziz, head of the socio-educational service of the HEM.
  • Stéphanie Delafosse, Head of the Specific Audience Sector.
  • Mélanie Bacquart, project manager of the specific public service and the entire team.
  • Didier Saulnier photographer at the Palace of Versailles ©EPV / Didier Saulnier.
  • Mehdi Idir, regional advisor DRAC Ile de France.
  • Laetitia Mailho, Director, Association Arts and Health, The Manufacture Coordination of the device Culture and Health in IDF for the ARS.
  • Christine Géricot - "sur un lit de couleurs" association
  • Raphael Knafo, hairdresser and wigmaker.
  • Fabrice Gaboriau, photographer.

The Palace of Versailles and the Margency French Red Cross Children's Hospital (HEM) are two temples of the wig, each in its own way!
By initiating the workshops "Wigs in Versailles", I wanted to make them dialogue and highlight the creativity of young patients.
Confronted with an inevitable loss of hair, Louis the XIVth launched a fashion wearing the most exuberant wigs ever to be worn... Until that day when the young patients of the HEM who face, in their own life and due to their care, a grueling hair loss, created a series of spectacular wigs, with their artists' eyes wide open to the life of Château de Versailles.
My commitment to these children is to awake them to culture, with a bold and audacious eye. My goal is to give them the artistic means to take another look at their care path. The workshops "Wigs in Versailles", thanks to the joy of creation, to the poetry, the dream and imagination, made it possible to put away the disease. The young patients were able to summon the strength, the patience and the talent to innovate, design, develop and compose wigs full of humor. Each of them reveals a space of freedom, discovery and tells with a lot of hindsight how to overcome the ordeal of the disease. They united their formidable inventiveness with the combing combs from expert hairdresser and wigmaker Raphael Knafo. The result : the festooned headdresses created by the HEM children were exhibited in Versailles!
The exceptional partnership with the Palace of Versailles, the visits, the educators and the exhibition "Escales à Versailles - Coiffé / Décoiffé" are all positive impacts favoring the (re)building of self-esteem. If this "Wigs in Versailles" exhibition is the result of hours of workshop, what it is really telling, is the story of an unusual tête-à-tête between the nobility of Versailles and the nobility of the young patients of the HEM."

Caroline Desnoëttes – Visual Artist

As one discovers the extravagant hairstyles of the Marquise de la Injection, the Countess Chemo de la Therapy or the Baron of the Serum, one leaves the hospital, and enters the Palace of Versailles!

These wigs echo the the spectacular wigs invented by M. Binet for Louis XIV -to the point of giving his name to a popular expression "Avoir une drôle de binette (to have a funny face)" They also echo the disheveling talent of Mrs. Bertin, Marie-Antoinette’s seamstress who rivaled her hairdresser, M.Léonard, to build the wildest "pouffes" according to the circumstances, going so far as to immortalise on the Queen's head, a boat, the Belle Poule, for the arrival of the potato.

With the generous complicity of the artist Caroline Desnoëttes, the young patients of the oncology and pediatric services of the Margency Children's Hospital of the French Red Cross reinvent the Versailles fashion with subtlety and humor. Tubes, syringes, capsule come out of the hospital to be reused, reinterpreted in the manner of all incongruous objects that served as accessories to the hairdressers of the court. The inventiveness, the freedom and the smiles of the young patients make us forget that they also left the hospital for a few days, to find a refuge in the baroque dreams of Versailles. In the Hall of Mirrors or in the Gardens, they felt themselves princes or princesses, reviving a bygone era. And this is the best gift they could give us.

I thank all those who, at the Margency Children's Hospital and the Palace of Versailles, have allowed this unique exhibition to be born which moves us as much as it obliges us. In 1774, Louis XVI, who had been vaccinated against smallpox, wanted to wear a wig called "Inoculation" to mark "the triumph of science on disease." What if, two hundred and forty-five years later, Versailles hosted the same profession of faith?

Catherine Pégard - President of the Public Establishment of the Castle, the Museum and the National Estate of Versailles.

Caroline Desnoëttes
Caroline Desnoëttes:
+33 6 63 79 53 71
Solenn de la Croix:
+33 6 67 02 05 26
Solenn de la Croix