Garments of the Russian Empresses
on Display in Moscow
Portrait of Grand Duchess Yelizaveta Alexeyevna by M.L.-E. Vigee Le Brun.
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Empress Maria Alexandrovna by Sergey L. Levitsky.
Russian empresses, the wives and mothers of the Russian emperors, were first and foremost women who loved luxurious garments. They not only followed the fashion trends, but also often set the fashion themselves. Their garments, accessories, jewelry impressed the viewers by their refinement and luxuriousness and were a part of the image of the Russian empire.
Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna’s parlour, 1858 by Edward P. Gau.
Very interesting documents are also presented at the exhibition, which point at the fact that Russian empresses occasionally took part in creating garments themselves. In 1781 Catherine II (1729-1796) wrote a letter to one of the nobles in which she included a description and a drawing of a garment for her grandson Alexander.
Empress Maria Fyodorovna by Unknown photographer, 1908. © State Archives of the Russian Federation.
The exhibition also tells about the personal tastes of the empresses. Elizabeth (1779-1826) who was the wife of Alexander I (1777-1825) could not stand the rose color and always refused to wear garments, which had the slightest element of that color. Alexandra Fedorovna preferred a straight and austere silhouette and often refused to wear frills and flounces. Maria Fedorovna (1759-1828), the wife of Pavel I (1754-1801), despite her title of an empress behaved like a classic mother-in-law by banning the future empress Elizabeth from wearing live flowers on her dress. To be fair, Elizabeth was remarkably modest: she preferred simple white dresses, and according to her contemporaries, her favorite jewelry was pearls.
Dress of cowberry-coloured velvet and lilac satin. Decorated with lace and coloured silk embroidery with metal thread.France, Paris, the 1890s.
Source & Copyright: The Voice of Russia