Le Beau Monde

Deck Name: Le Beau Monde Regency Tarot Deck
Creator: Jennifer Pool
Publisher & Year: Self Published 2019

It has been established that I am a fan of pop culture and fashion trends. The same is true for fashion of yesteryear. When I was a child I preferred to dress up in historical fashions for my make-believe. When I was older, I learned how to sew and began to construct historic costumes for myself long before cosplay was a thing. Making historical dresses complete with all the underpinnings gave me an appreciation for the attention to detail, bespoke nature, and body-size inclusivity of fashion from years gone by. As tarot becomes more accessible to multiple subcultures, I am delighted to see how the crossover appeal will manifest itself in new deck themes and designs.

Le Beau Monde Tarot is a fun deck that appeals to fans of the Regency period, fashion plates, historical fashion, and pipish decks. Jennifer Pool used actual fashion plates from the late 18th and early 19th century to create this playful deck. Jennifer was inspired fiction characters featured in the Regency period literature and by non-fictional woman living in this time period like Jane Austen. You can understand why I affectionately call this the Jane Austen deck but it is not to be confused with other Jane Austen decks on the market. I love the theme and concept of this deck because it serves as a tribute to women like Jane Austen who set a new standard for femininity, romance, and independence.

Because the images for this deck were pre existing, Jennifer Pool was tasked with matching the theme of the image to the archetype of the major arcana and court cards. I think Jennifer has done a lovely job with this task resulting in a deck of cards that give off a slight cheekiness and graceful elegance. There are some changes to the traditional names of the courts and four suits. The four suits represent four common titles used in regency romance novels to describe one’s social status; Pages are now Debutantes, Knights are Bluestockings, Queens have been renamed Duchess, and Kings are Dowagers. The four suits are renamed after common accessories used in the regency period; Wands have been changed to Candles, Cups are renamed to Parasols, Swords retain their airy element with Fans, and Pentacles are Reticules, which would have held any money. The minors are pips which repeat the same image to the total number of the assigned cards. I hesitate to consider the pips in this deck as Marseille style pips however I think a Marseille reader would be comfortable reading the pips in this deck. The cardstock is typical cardstock which is thin enough to bridge shuffle but thick enough to stand up to the test of time. The lamination on the cards is somewhere between a matte and satin finish.

The back of the two-piece box describes Le Beau Monde as a, “Lady-centric Regency tarot deck.” There are no masculine images to be found within this deck. Although that isn’t necessarily true, I find some of the riding habits depicted to be somewhat androgynous but there are no images of men in this deck of cards. Due to the inspiration and theme of this deck I can understand the lack of balance however I happen to think men’s fashion from the regency period to be quite dapper. A few other things I find absent from this deck happen to fall into the inclusivity and representation categories. Due to the theme of Le Beau Monde I was willing to overlook the lack of representation in ethnic, culture, ability, and body diversity but I realized a few things. Even during the regency period, representation mattered. Abolition was a topic of discussion, the expansion of the British Empire introduced people to new cultures, medical science was in its infancy, and people have always been many different shapes and sizes. It’s easy to dismiss the lack of representation because the images of this deck were based on fashion plates of the time but this is precisely why representation matters. Even the work of Jane Austen explored the flaws in standards of society at the time. The fictional nature of this deck allows for some creative license, besides, just because there weren’t many images portraying people of color, or body diversity, or different abilities doesn’t mean these people didn’t exist in in society, high or low.

Overall, I am quite charmed with this deck because it indulges the part of me who wishes she could dress up in the stunning elegance, and ridiculous camp of the regency period. It is fun to see certain references from these fashion plates echoed in modern fashion as well. I hope the trend of exploring cross collectibles among different sub cultures continues. Mainstream media is so fixated on labels and compartmentalization. I hope 200 years from now young trendsetters will see, through the exploration of cross over collectibles, that we are a lot more varied and much more accepting than what mainstream media chooses to portray.

Le Beau Monde Regency Tarot Deck can be found here: https://www.swingandsparrow.com/