On May 17th, the State Hermitage Museum will open an outstanding temporary exhibition called »At the Court of the Russian Emperors.» The organizers will showcase costumes from the Russian Royal family and nobility of the 18th-20th centuries. Ceremonial and fancy dresses, military uniforms, and children’s costumes will be shown in the halls of the Winter Palace.
This new Hermitage exhibition can rightly be called unique. It includes costumes that belonged to Peter I, from his uniforms up to his bathrobes! The museum also possesses two pairs of shoes of the Russian emperor. It is well-known that the 18th century was the time of ladies at the Russian throne. Surprisingly, after the main quaintrelle of the Russian court, empress Elizabeth, only one dress is left. At the same time it would be of great interest to see the so-called »uniform dresses» of Catherine II. In fact, since her times Russian emperors or empresses were supposed to be colonels-in-chief of different Russian regiments. That’s why special uniform dresses were created for the female members of the royal family. Nowadays the Hermitage Museum has about 30 such dresses that belonged to Catherine the Great.
In 1834 emperor Nicolas I established a special law concerning the ceremonies of the court. Thus, ladies-in-waiting of different ranks were obliged to wear dresses of certain colors. For example, a red velvet dress with gold embroidery was typical for the lady-in-waiting of the empress. The length of the train was also important, indicating the status of the lady. Such dresses were either commissioned abroad — at the workshop of Ch. Worth or created in Russia by the famous designer N. Lamanova.
At the exhibition fancy dresses will be represented as well. Masquerades at the Russian court usually had a special theme. In the 1830’s Chinese masquerades were popular. Alexander II preferred European style masquerades.
The exhibition will be open till the end of September so if you are going to visit St Petersburg this summer this exhibition is a must!