Gowns of the last two Romanov Tsarinas

The Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia (6th June 1872 – 17th July 1918). Before the Revolution, the Russian royal family lived surrounded by enormous wealth and luxury in enormous palaces. Incredibly some of the gorgeous gowns worn by the Empress have survived and can still be seen today…

You can still see the clothes that she wore at her coronation on the 14th of May 1896.

You can also see clothes worn by Alexandra’s mother in law, the Empress Marie Feodorovna (26th November 1847 – 13th October 1928).

The dress she wore at her coronation on the 27th of May 1883.

Further recommended reading:

The Last Empress: Life and Times of Alexandra Feodorovna, Tsarina of Russia

The Court of the Last Tsar: Pomp, Power and Pageantry in the Reign of Nicholas II

28 thoughts on “Gowns of the last two Romanov Tsarinas

  • Cami Powers

    Yay! Yay! Yay! Those gowns are breathtaking. Thank you for sharing the pictures, Melanie. My husband laughed at me when I did a little happy dance in my chair at seeing them. :)

  • Leslie Carroll

    These gownsare AMAZING!!! I want them all! You find the most glorious photos. Was this from a specific exhibition? I always think of Alexandra’s mother-in-law “Minnie” as such a formidable woman (so I have a different body image of her in my head, more like Margaret Dumont, from the Marx Brothers movies), that it’s refreshing to see what she really would have looked like from her gowns — as sylph-like as her sister Alix, who married the future Edward VII.

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      They can be viewed in museums in St Petersburg and Moscow. It’s absolutely incredible that so much has survived the Revolution! I’m supposed to be visiting St Petersburg later this year and know that I’m going to be totally overwhelmed by the beauty and poignancy of everything!

  • Elizabeth Kerri Mahon

    See this is why I don’t write about poor people! Like Leslie, I want every single one of those gowns, they are so gorgeous. Maybe I need to be working on my Victorian mystery series, instead of my contemporary!

  • telynor

    Breathtaking. I can only imagine what it must have been like to wear those court gowns — I was watching a programme on the Hermitage, and they were showing how those gowns were put on, and how heavy they were. A note in one of the books I read about the Romanov women referred to the dresses as ‘armor’, and they were laced on piece by piece. Terrific entry!

  • Meg

    If you’re going to St. Petersburg to look at the beautiful clothing, be careful! The majority of these beautiful gowns are technically a part of the Hermitage Collection, but very few of them (aka, none) are typically on display in the Hermitage proper. When I was in St. Petersburg, they were all on display at a museum in the suburbs, and my group couldn’t get there (I think they were at the palace in Pushkin, but I’d have to check to see if that’s still accurate).

    I do know that some of the gowns belonging to members of the Romanov family are on display at Gatchina.

    The coronation clothing is all on display in the Kremlin Armory, along with many other fantastic things. :)

    The process of how these gowns were constructed and worn is really fascinating. Love seeing them on display!

  • Caroline DeWarren

    Thank you so much for sharing!!! My oldest and son and I are planning on a trip to Russia after he is finished his apprenticeship. We definitely plan on visiting The Hermitage in St. Petersburg. I cannot wait to see a selection the glorious artwork that Catherine The Great bought when she was on the throne. But I really love historical clothing.

  • Sue B

    Beautiful. Do you know where these dresses are? I am just amazed that they survived through the revolution and the wars!

    • Meg

      The story told in the Hermitage when I visited Russia was that the surviving clothes were used as packing material when other pieces of art were being removed from the palaces and museums around Leningrad, during the second world war. I’ve never seen it confirmed (at least in English) by any scholars, however.

  • Cynthia Lambert

    Another wonderful post, Melanie. Do we know who her favorite dressmakers were? It was nice to see the cobbler’s name in the shoes. The fact that satin shoes were worn so gently is a potent illustrator of her lifestyle. No slogging through muddy Russian streets for this girl, eh? She went from Aubusson carpeted rooms to satin lined carriages with those shoes.

  • Dane

    I LOVE your fashion posts. I always wonder about the woman-hours required to do all the embroidery and other work on the fabric. There must have been dozens of workers involved non-stop to create such elaborate beauty.

    • Meg

      When I was investigating the gowns for a thesis proposal, I discovered that much of the embroidery on the court gowns (such as the coronation gowns) was done by nuns at Russian monasteries.

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