Our Cups Runneth Over

The women the champagne coupe origin stories are ascribed to are themselves tied together with certain common threads. They all were lovers of powerful men, and primarily defined by those associations. Portraits show their breasts as uniformly small, round, and lily-white; their intricate corsetry and aristocratic toilette likely kept their décolletage supple and firm, looking ornamental and smelling sweet. As with most rumors, the speculation about these women’s roles as drinking-vessel models (which was rampant — an English-language account of Madame du Barry’s journals published in her lifetime mentions that the rumor “profoundly scandalized the palace’s residents and regular visitors”) wasn’t merely innocuous chatter from spiteful ladies-in-waiting and scornful subjects. Rather, it was — and still is — a way to assert that these women of stature never become anything more than their bodies. Whether in a dishy rumor or a revered myth, the story of the breast-based coupe still serves as a way to keep women under glass.

Did you know about the rumor that the champagne coupe is modeled after one of Marie Antoinette’s breasts? Claire Carusillo on Eater has a riveting history about women’s bodies and how they’ve apparently inspired our drinking vessels — — breast milk has always had some sort of mystic power ascribed to it, so while the jump to drinking from breasts to drinking from a glass shaped like a breast is a little strange, it is pretty logical. Accordingly, the overwhelming and obvious historical objectification of women is, too, but Carusillo provides a really great, honest reckoning of the juxtaposition of “women’s breast milk is all-powerful and vital and we need them” and “women are just around to make us breast milk and they are objects.” Though I must admit: I am really curious to see what kind of glasses my breasts would make. Field trip?

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