Saturday, December 29, 2018

DAY 24: Surviving the Russian Winter in Style

Mantle by A.T. Ivanova Workshop,

Princess Dagmar of Denmark, otherwise known as Minnie, otherwise known as the Czarina Maria Feodorovna after her marriage to Alexander III of Russia, was born in a cold climate and lived out her days in a world ruled by ice. 

A collection of Minnie's clothes, spanning six decades of European fashion, is held at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. The dress styles transition from Victorian to Belle Epoque to Edwardian to Art Nouveau. But it's the mantles, cloaks, and capes that I find astonishingly beautiful. Minnie was a girl who knew how to keep warm.

Some of the outerwear, like many of the gowns, was fashioned by the famed St. Petersburg workshop of A.T. Ivanova. Others were crafted in Paris. 

Cloth, silk, fur, metal. Morin-Blossier, Paris,
It's cold outside here in Denver. So I'll offer the Czarina's ideas for fighting rough weather. All, from the Hermitage Museum collection.

Ostrich plumes and silk brocade,
Emile Pingat, Paris, 1891-92

Cheviot, silk, metal. Possibly Russian,
c. 1910?

But what about the furs, you ask? Where are all the sables and arctic fox and ermines an empress is expected to wear?

Minnie certainly wore ermine for her coronation. And a number of members of the imperial family had ermine capes. But I can find only one photograph of the Empress in fur--despite her long life of 81 years, constantly in the spotlight. It's from the late 1860s, from the appearance of the dress's fashion and her obvious youthfulness. Taken, perhaps, her first winter in Russia?

For more images from THAT CHURCHILL WOMAN, visit the  Pinterest board behind the novel.  

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