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Luxury and intimacy of court costumes of the XIX-XX centuries: What could be worn and what was forbidden in tsarist Russia
Luxury and intimacy of court costumes of the XIX-XX centuries: What could be worn and what was forbidden in tsarist Russia

The changeability of fashion is observed not only in our days, but also in the days of tsarist Russia. At the royal court at different times, there were certain requirements for decoration. There were instructions about what you can wear in high society, and what was considered bad form. By the way, the instructions were prescribed not only for dresses, but also for hats and jewelry. Many references and rave reviews about luxury, splendor, splendor, wealth and splendor of outfits at the Russian court have survived to this day.

Velvet is a clear favorite

The life of the royal palace was subject to certain rules of etiquette, modeled on Western European trends. In 1826, by decree of Nicholas I, a special Ministry of the Imperial Court was created, where the rules and regulations on life and exits at the highest court were spelled out. This also applied to weekend toilets, special attention was paid to the dresses of the ruling officials and their accompanying companions at various official events held at the court.

For example, the empress certainly had to be dressed in a dress with split sleeves that go down along the skirt. This was the hallmark of the Russian cut. Wearing anything over her dress was not allowed. If the empress had any flaws in her figure, they were not covered with a cape, but were distracted from them with the help of massive necklaces and other jewelry. But women of the older generation, who did not have any rank at court, could easily hide behind, for example, pralines.

A distinctive feature of the Russian cut was a dress with slit sleeves that descend along the skirt

In the middle of the 19th century, the main elements of the clothes of the ladies of the court were a corset-bodice, a lower satin and an upper swinging skirt, the second of which passed into a long train. By the way, the longest train was worn by the empress, its length reached about five meters. Ladies at court were also dressed in Russian-cut dresses, but depending on the status, the color of the dress and patterns were different. For example, the maid of honor of the Empress wore scarlet velvet with gold embroidery, but the maid of honor of the princess wore silver embroidery, despite the fact that the color of the dress itself was the same. The ladies of the state wore dresses made of green and emerald velvet, but a crimson hue was prepared for the gofmeister.

Despite the fact that the main attention was paid more to how women looked, as they were a real decoration of any event, men still did not remain in the shadows. Of course, everything was simpler for them. The military put on ceremonial uniforms for social events, and civilians - tailcoats. Representatives of the stronger sex could stand out in a special way, thanks to unusual fabrics or various accessories, for example, buttons or pins with diamonds and other precious stones.

Thanks to the various accessories of the costume, it was possible to determine the status of the guest of the celebration. For example, a chamberlain could be recognized by a gilded key on a blue moire ribbon, and a master of ceremonies by a wand, similar to a black wooden cane with an ivory ball and a coat of arms.

Girls' best friends are not only diamonds, but also pearls

The empress's chic weekend outfits looked even more advantageous in combination with various jewelry, which were of two types: for special occasions and everyday. Naturally, the most expensive and beautiful things were worn at festive events. For the wife of Emperor Alexander III, Maria Feodorovna, a dress made of silver brocade was considered the best outfit, and a tiara with diamonds, pearl beads and necklaces added sparkle and chic. Her favorite adornment was a pearl brooch on black velvet.

From the 1880s to the 1910s, the squeak of fashion was the sklavage (translated from French for "slave collar") - a necklace consisting of chains tightly attached to the neck, which form one strip, with fixed inserts of diamonds, pearls and other jewelry or beads. Often, necklaces were attached to the sklavage, which hung down to the neckline.

Sklawage is a popular and expensive piece of jewelry that only noble people could afford

It was bad manners to wear diamonds in the morning and afternoon. These decorations complemented the image of the ladies only at balls, dinner parties and other social events. By the way, if the event was too large-scale, for example, a ball, where more than three thousand guests took part, then they tried not to wear too bulky and expensive jewelry. Indeed, with so many invited guests during the dance, you can not only tear the hem of the dress, but also easily break the pearl thread. The courtiers of Nicholas I recall that there were cases when the shoes of the dancing gentlemen crushed the scattered jewels and pearls on the floor, and the crackling was so loud and frequent that it even drowned out the musical accompaniment a little.

Who created the costumes of the emperors

The Empress has always been a trendsetter at court, and according to the rules of etiquette, everyone was forbidden to dress better, richer and more spectacular than she. All empresses had their favorite fashion designers and tailors. For example, the wife of Alexander III quite often ordered luxurious outfits from one of the most famous couturiers in Europe. The empress made the order with the help of letters, by the way, he made this exception only for Maria Feodorovna. She was his favorite customer, because they understood each other half-words, and disagreements bypassed them.

Empress Maria Feodorovna was a trendsetter at court

In order not to constantly go to Paris for fitting, an accurate mannequin of the Empress's figure was made for the couturier. So the wife of Alexander III tried to keep herself in shape so that the dress would fit. But the empress was lucky with the figure. Even after forty years, her waist was just over sixty centimeters. Many admired her slender silhouette, it was difficult to tell from her that she gave birth to five children. And outwardly, she always looked younger than her years.

Of the Russian couturiers, the Empress's favorite was Avdotya Ivanovna from St. Petersburg. Creating costumes for the imperial theater was her main activity, but soon she began to sew for the empress. Alexander III, unlike his wife, did not like to dress up. He in every possible way avoided various balls, especially masquerades. But there were times when it was impossible to avoid these events. He wore civilian suits only on business trips abroad, so he was most often seen in military uniform. In the choice of clothes, it was more difficult for him to please than his wife. He constantly had quarrels with the tailors.

Alexander III loved to travel around Europe in three-piece walking suits, but for various visits or trips to the theater, he chose a suit made of wool, with a satin collar, trimmed buttons, an elegant bow tie and a white shirt.

Wedding dress - special outfit

In addition to the everyday and ceremonial attire of the emperors, there were also for one special occasion, for example, a wedding dress. There was special preparation for this celebration, respectively, and the outfit was made more sophisticated. The wedding dress was sewn of silver brocade, decorated with embroidery of silver threads, as well as feathers.

Take, for example, the wedding dress of the bride of Emperor Nicholas II, Princess Alexandra Feodorovna. A distinctive feature of her silver dress was a train, about four meters long, which was carried by as many as ten courtiers. The bride's look was completed with a gorgeous wedding crown decorated with diamonds.

Wedding image of Alexandra Fedorovna

The wedding procession coincided with the birthday of Maria Feodorovna, who at that time was in mourning for her husband. The celebration on this day weakened the mourning for the emperor. The widow chose a white silk crepe dress on her wedding day. This color, as well as black and gray, was traditional for mourning ladies' dresses. The choice of a particular color was chosen depending on the degree and period of mourning. The only acceptable decoration for a mourning dress was ruffles, which framed the hem or train.

For one special occasion, more than just wedding dresses were made. For the groom from the imperial family, a robe was made from silver brocade or from brocade, also a variety of brocade on a silk basis, with a silver metal duck. The robe was complemented by a sash made of the same fabric and shoes, which were often edged with swan down. The groom wore this robe only once when he went to his wife's bedroom on their wedding night. This costume, like the ritual, was very important. It was on a par, for example, with the prohibition to see the bride before the wedding. Although the men did not really like the ritual with the robe, but what can you do about it, there are traditions, there are traditions.

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