The Winter Palace masquerade in 1903

Have you ever taken part in a masquerade? It sounds unusual, and now imagine such a ball in the past! The costume ball held at the Winter Palace on February 11 and February 13, 1903 was a masquerade during which all the nobility of the Russian Empire were present in the costumes of the "pre-Peter the Great time".


Empress Alexandra Feodorovna wished to keep this celebration in memory, so the guests were captured by the best photographers of that era. These pictures are a valuable historical source. This ball remains the most famous holiday in St. Petersburg during the reign of Nicholas II, but not the last. The ball, dedicated to the 290th anniversary of the house of Romanov, took place at the end of the Christmas fasting and was held in two stages. One day, the guests gathered in the Romanov gallery of the Hermitage, then, walking in pairs, greeted the Imperial family, making the so-called "Russian bow". Then there was a concert and Opera, a ballet with Anna Pavlova, and of course a dinner with dancing. The second stage was the masquerade ball itself. The ladies of the court were dressed in sarafans and kokoshniki, and the Cavaliers appeared in the costumes of archers or falconers.


Zinaida Yusupova

The dancing took place in the Hermitage Concert hall (the court orchestra was also dressed in old Russian costumes), and continued until one o'clock in the morning. 20 couples participated in the" Russian", and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna and Princess Zinaida Yusupova soloed. Costumes for the ball were created in advance following special sketches by the artist Sergei Solomko and cost a fortune. Contemporaries also note the huge amount of jewelry that was showered with guests.


In 1911, the German factory of playing cards Dondorf (Frankfurt am main) developed sketches for a deck of playing cards " Russian style " - with figures in costumes, repeating the costumes of the participants of the ball. The cards were printed in St. Petersburg at the Alexander manufactory, their release was timed to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the house of Romanov.


One of the costumes of Queen Amidala ("Star wars. Episode II. Attack of clones") - Gold Travel Costume is based on the Russian folk costume with a kokoshnik, known in the West from pictures from a Costume ball.


Kokoshnik is an old Russian headdress. It is a light fan made of thick paper, metal tape or crown, sewn to the cap. On top of the comb decorated with ornaments: artificial or live flowers, brocade, braid, beads, river pearls, gold threads, foil, glass, the most rich with precious stones. Expelled from the upper strata of society under Peter the Great, who forbade it to be worn by the his decree, kokoshnik was returned to female court costume by Catherine II, who revived the fashion ''a la russe'' in the understanding of the XVIII century and returned it to masquerade costume. The Napoleonic wars, which caused a surge of patriotism, returned interest in the national costume. In 1812-14, red and blue Russian "sundresses" with "high" waist and filigree buttons in front came into fashion. So Russian Empress dressed it. Kokoshnik is known since the time of Ancient Russia (at least since the XVII century, when the use of the word was first documented). Although the exact time of its occurrence is unknown. Already in the burials of Novgorod, belonging to the X-XII century, there are some similarities to kokoshnik.


Of course today you will not see girls wearing kokoshnik. Popular are hats with long brims, fur hats, caps and of course earflaps! I'll show you where you can buy the best Russian hat.


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