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Topic: Alexandra's Clothing; Formal and Informal  (Read 28431 times)
« on: July 18, 2011, 02:31:45 AM »
Talya Offline
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I was looking through Massie's N&A looking for references of OTMA's dresses, and instead came up with Alexandra's clothing. Since Alexandra isn't a part of OTMA and there is no thread dedicated to her clothes (aside from a coronation dress thread) informal, or not, and decided to open this one up. Here I have an excerpt from Massie's book detailing Alexandra's  clothing.
"In the evening, Alexandra wore white or cream silk gowns embroidered in silver and blue worn with diamonds in her hair and pearls at her throat. She disliked filmy lingerie; her undergarments and her her sleeping gowns were made of fine, embroidered linen. Her shoes were low-heeled and pointed, usually bronze or white suede. Outdoors she carried a parasol against the sun, even when wearing a wide-brimmed hat."
(Also, her gowns were designed by St. Petersburg fashion dictator Mme. Brissac.)
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Reply #1
« on: June 10, 2012, 08:22:05 AM »
Inok Nikolai Offline
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Paul Gilbert reports on an exhibit of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna's dresses at the Pavlovsk Palace:

Pavlovsk Displays Empress Alexandra Feodorovna's Dresses

http://www.angelfire.com/pa/ImperialRussian/blog/index.blog/1437783/pavlovsk-displays-empress-alexandra-feodorovnas-dresses/

[Even if you can't understand the Russian, still watch the video anyway in order to see the items.]
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инок Николай
Reply #2
« on: June 10, 2012, 01:26:06 PM »
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If you go to the Beineke Library online access and view the "Romanov albums" which are actually Vyroubova's personal photo albums, you will see many dozens of photos of the Empress in both formal and informal attire.
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Reply #3
« on: June 14, 2012, 07:26:05 AM »
rosieposie Offline
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Thanks for the link Inok Nikolai.

Wow Alexandra had a lot of light colored dresses and the accessories were just gorgeous and the colors breath taking.   It was kind of cool to see two different kokoshniks as well.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2012, 07:34:05 AM by rosieposie » Logged

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Reply #4
« on: June 24, 2012, 04:37:30 PM »
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In  looking through a copy of "The Sokolov Investigation" in a out of town library it mentions finding buttons to a Lilac suit found in the burn pile at the mine. this is most likely what Alexandra was wearing when she was murdered.
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Reply #5
« on: September 06, 2012, 04:33:18 PM »
Sanochka Offline
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In researching AP tableware, I keep running across clothing worn by Alexandra.  Here is a gown from 1911 that was so vividly etched into my memory that I went back into cyberspace and retrieved it.  It certainly "fits" the descriptions of what Alexandra liked in her dresses and gowns.

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Reply #6
« on: September 07, 2012, 02:37:16 AM »
CountessKate Offline
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Something which puzzled me when looking at Paul Gilbert's article on the Pavlovsk exhibition of Alexandra Feodorovna's clothing, is the assertion that "The early 20th-century empress preferred loose, flowing, dresses, refusing to wear a corset"[my italics].  It seems clear however from photographs that she wore corseted gowns well into the 20th century, and even the sort of gown in Sanochka's beautiful picture would normally have been worn with the longer, less shaped corsets of the time.  While I think Alexandra may possibly have worn flowing dresses in private and particularly in illness - tea gowns and the like - it doesn't seem likely to me that she would have abandoned them in public.  For a woman of her modest, conservative views, that would have been tantamount to putting herself in the company of women such as Elinor Glyn, of very dubious reputation.  It wasn't necessary to 'tight-lace' as it was called - a well-made corset was designed to give a woman a shape and could be very supportive to the back, and it would have been perfectly obvious whether a woman was wearing a corset, so not wearing one made a considerable statement. 
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Reply #7
« on: September 13, 2012, 09:32:08 AM »
CountessKate Offline
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A few of the "loose, flowing dresses" on display at Pavlovsk:



And a couple in more detail:



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Reply #8
« on: September 13, 2012, 10:08:26 PM »
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CountessKate, these photos are stunning.  Actually, jaw-dropping would be a better way to describe it.  I cannot believe these dresses exist; it's unbelievable what's coming out of storage after so many years and decades.  When I read Massey's "Nicholas and Alexandra" in 1975, and hungrily devoured what few b&w photos I could find back then, I couldn't have dreamed that I could log onto a computer almost 40 years later and find color photos such as these.  Each new photo is startling, and helps like nothing else to somehow bring to life the IF and their world.  Thank you for posting these.
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Reply #9
« on: September 14, 2012, 01:30:03 AM »
CountessKate Offline
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They are indeed really fantastic, and all credit to the curators who have conserved these dresses to the point where they look properly floaty and airy again (as many of the dresses I have seen on display elsewhere have been rather badly preserved).  I would love to see the exhibition myself - or at least a catalogue.

I've never seen the following dress myself, but was thrilled when I found a picture on the internet, as the skirt is clearly displayed actually being worn by Alexandra in a series of photos dated 1898.  The bodice she is wearing is not the same, so clearly she had two - one for day wear and one for the evening:

 

Most of her evening gowns have rather high necks, suggesting the story about her prejudices in this regard were true, even if the tale of the insolent court lady is not.
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Reply #10
« on: September 14, 2012, 02:15:51 AM »
CountessKate Offline
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Actually, now I come to think of it, I did see the skirt (with the evening bodice) in the inaugural exhibition at the Hermitage museum in Amsterdam in 2010, 'At the Russian Court'.  You can just see it at the left hand corner of the glass case:



The dress at the front deceived me for a long while, as the bodice was closer to the dress in the photograph and I thought it was that gown being displayed - you need to look very closely at the decoration on the skirt to distinguish the two.  This dress is also one which belonged to Alexandra and is similar enough to be from around the same period.  It is thought to be from Mme Brisac's workshop:

 
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Reply #11
« on: September 14, 2012, 09:06:44 AM »
Tony de Gandarillas Offline
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I was looking through Massie's N&A looking for references of OTMA's dresses, and instead came up with Alexandra's clothing. Since Alexandra isn't a part of OTMA and there is no thread dedicated to her clothes (aside from a coronation dress thread) informal, or not, and decided to open this one up. Here I have an excerpt from Massie's book detailing Alexandra's  clothing.
"In the evening, Alexandra wore white or cream silk gowns embroidered in silver and blue worn with diamonds in her hair and pearls at her throat. She disliked filmy lingerie; her undergarments and her her sleeping gowns were made of fine, embroidered linen. Her shoes were low-heeled and pointed, usually bronze or white suede. Outdoors she carried a parasol against the sun, even when wearing a wide-brimmed hat."
(Also, her gowns were designed by St. Petersburg fashion dictator Mme. Brissac.)

I have read references to Mme. Brissac and her establishment.  I also know that there was a substantial group of French people living in St. Petersburg.  I was wondering if anyone knew more about Mme. Brissac.  Does she belong to the French Ducal family de Brissac?
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Reply #12
« on: September 16, 2012, 06:38:11 AM »
CountessKate Offline
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Quote
I have read references to Mme. Brissac and her establishment.  I also know that there was a substantial group of French people living in St. Petersburg.  I was wondering if anyone knew more about Mme. Brissac.  Does she belong to the French Ducal family de Brissac?

In fact there was no 'de' in the name and the labels in the gowns were 'A. Brisac. St Petersbourg', although in reminiscences of the period the more aristocratic spelling was used. Although it was Madame Brisac who dealt with the imperial ladies, the couture house belonged to her husband, Auguste Lazarevitch Brisac (or 'Brizak' as it was rendered into Russian).  She ("tall and dark" according to Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna) may not have been of French origin at all, and he was likely to be of at least second-generation Russian given his patronym.  No doubt the French name gave customers some illusion that there was a connection to Paris whilst they were spending their money in Russia, and if you spent it with the Brisac atelier it was likely to be a lot of money - Mme Brisac assured both Empress Alexandra and Grand Duchess Olga separately that each was receiving a substantial discount compared to what the other received, when they complained about the prices.  A son, Victor Brizak, moved the house from 42 Moika Embankment to 4 Kamennoostrovsky Prospekt in St Petersburg in 1916, but that seems to be the last heard of them.  They were probably too associated with the imperial regime to survive the revolution, unlike Nadejda Petrovna Lamanova, who was desiging into the 1920s, including for the theatre.

Here are a couple of photos of the Brisac workshop, in the immediate pre-war period of about 1912-1914, judging by the style of the costumes:

 
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Reply #13
« on: September 16, 2012, 10:28:58 PM »
Sanochka Offline
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This is unbelievable.  It's utterly fascinating to see a b&w photo, like the 1898 photo of N&A above, and then to see the actual skirt she wore in all its full-color splendor.  Until this moment, I'd seen only contemporary photos of Alexandra's court gowns and the gown she wore to the 1903 Winter Palace ball.  Re the Brissac shop photos; could the uniformed man standing beneath the windows be a security guard?  Before I hit "enter," I want to say thank you again, CountessKate, for posting these wonderful photos.
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Reply #14
« on: September 17, 2012, 02:12:05 AM »
CountessKate Offline
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This is unbelievable.  It's utterly fascinating to see a b&w photo, like the 1898 photo of N&A above, and then to see the actual skirt she wore in all its full-color splendor.  Until this moment, I'd seen only contemporary photos of Alexandra's court gowns and the gown she wore to the 1903 Winter Palace ball.  Re the Brissac shop photos; could the uniformed man standing beneath the windows be a security guard?  Before I hit "enter," I want to say thank you again, CountessKate, for posting these wonderful photos.

It's very unusual to find a surviving dress actually worn by any of the imperial women actually shown being worn in a photograph (aside from the great court dresses).  I can only recall one surving dress of Maria Feodorovna's where she was photographed actually wearing it as well.  As for the Brisac photos - no one was identified so it's not clear who anyone was.  Indeed, it's not clear whether this is the workshop - though there are no sewing machines or other signs of industry around - or the shop itself, though it looks a little informal for a couturier's salon.  Mme Brisac would have gone to the imperial ladies for fittings and showings I would have imagined, but they would have needed rather grander surroundings for their other clients.  Perhaps it is in the rear of the shop, where the dresses were placed before either being shown to clients or sent for alteration or boxing up.  The man could be anybody - someone's chauffeur, the house security guard, one of the modiste's boyfriends, a Brisac son - there's no indication.
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