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13 January 2018 / leggypeggy

More fashion in the Hermitage Museum

Court ceremonial dress, Hermitage Museum

A lavish court ceremonial dress from the 1880s that belonged to Empress Maria Feodorovna

Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Two of Peter the Great’s full dress garments displayed in an elaborate hall

I spend most of my waking life in camping clothes. Black merino wool tops and khaki camping shorts or trousers (weather dictates length and weight). All the shorts and trousers, plus some of the tops, have zippered pockets. I carry a lightweight wallet, mobile phone and keys, but no handbag.

Our daughters badger me about always wearing black tops, so last time I shopped at the camping store, I bought two tops in dark charcoal grey. I told the salesperson I was trying to move away from black and she nodded sympathetically and said ‘ah, baby steps’.

Formal court dress, Hermitage Museum

Formal court dress belonging to Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna

A couple of weeks ago I wore a skirt (green, black, white and grey) with a black merino top. My hand was forced. I was staying in Yass with my dear friend, Maggie, and we were dining at the rather posh golf club. I even wore shoes—not runners or thongs (yeah, Australians call THAT footwear thongs).

All this explanation is a lead-up to the fact that, even though I dress like a hobo, I appreciate fine clothing. And the dresses and uniforms on display in the Hermitage Museum (Winter Palace) in St Petersburg in Russia were divine.

gowns, Hermitage Museum

The blue gown on the left belonged to Empress Maria Feodorovna. The pink one to the right belonged to Princess Zinaida Yusupova

Not that you’ll catch me wearing any of them.

So let’s have a look at some of the finery.

The dress pictured at the very top belonged to Empress Maria Feodorovna. It’s a court ceremonial dress made by the Izambard Chanceau workshop in St Petersburg in the 1880s. It includes velvet, satin, lace, gold thread, spangles, bronze and much more. I wonder how much it weighs?

Directly below that dress is a pic of the elaborate room where some of the garments are displayed. In the centre is a case with two of Peter the Great’s full dress garments from the early 18th century. The light blue one was made in Berlin and the darker one was crafted by Russian and European makers. The latter is styled like the uniform of a Life Guards Preobrazhensky Regiment Officer.

There was an array of highly decorative liturgical vestments made of velvet, silk, satin, cotton and gold threads. The apricot one is sprinkled with pearls, silver, emeralds, rubies, spinel, beryls and crystals. Then there’s the armour and the glitzy saddles and harnesses for horses. I guess everyone had to dress up to step out.

I can’t really pick a favourite although I was especially intrigued by the shape of the dress directly below. Surely it’s for a child or perhaps for a cardboard cutout? Do you have a favourite?

Dress with a watteau pleat

Silk dress with a watteau pleat. Made in France in the mid-1700s





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  1. Frank Prem / Jan 13 2018 4:23 pm

    Gorgeous gear, Peggy. Great for round the fire …

    Liked by 2 people

  2. derrickjknight / Jan 13 2018 4:34 pm

    I’d have to go for one of Peter’s. Could your normal attire be a counteraction to the dress that got all that attention years ago?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Paula / Jan 13 2018 4:50 pm

    Wow. Such artistry was put into… well… everything back then. I really enjoyed these photos. (BTW, I call them thongs too, 😉)

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 13 2018 10:44 pm

      Oh yay! Another thong caller. And yes, the artistry is stunning. Still more to come.


  4. Julie Manley / Jan 13 2018 5:03 pm

    The last one is a court dress, not for a child, just a very small woman, a child would not wear a dress like this. The fashion didn’t last long, but it was one of those absurd ‘must haves’ – French of course – that women were subjected to in the 1750s, until they decided it was just far too inelegant to have to walk through doors sideways (not to mention problems sitting down). The style did, however, show off vast amounts of silk and embroidery, and the dress probably cost the equivalent of six figures today. Totally ugly, but the fabric is TDF, overdress looks like French silk brocade.

    Top dress probably weighed pounds, you’d get a workout just wearing it for five minutes.

    The Hermitage is known for it’s fabulous historical clothes collection.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 13 2018 10:48 pm

      Oh Julie, thanks so very much for the explanation. I can’t imagine having to go sideways through all the doorways. Amazing to think of the fashions that women (and sometimes men) have had to tolerate over the years—and the expense must have been unbelievable. All that said, we were privileged to see all this.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. amindfultravellerblog / Jan 13 2018 5:10 pm

    Oh Peggy, you make me laugh… baby steps indeed.
    That ceremonial dress from the 1880’s is just exquisite. Imagine how long it would take to get dressed in these? Not like throwing on the shorts and thongs!! Hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 13 2018 10:50 pm

      Give me shorts and thongs any day. I can be showered, dressed, shod and out the door in minutes. And in case you’re wondering, the charcoal grey tops are neatly folded in the cupboard today. Real baby steps.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Vicki / Jan 13 2018 5:22 pm

    My favourite item has to be the gorgeous saddle with the pale green.

    (as to personal dress…’d never know in a million years I studied fashion designing, art & fashion history at tertiary level 45 years ago. I dress in the same old loose shabby 2-3 sets of clothes which are nearly worn out. I wear whatever causes the least pain and when undressing at night, the sheer bliss of taking off even that, is heavenly).

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 13 2018 10:54 pm

      Not sure how and why, but I think I knew a bit about your design history. It shows in your photography. I like the saddles too which is why I was compelled to include them.

      Nothing quite as satisfying as ditching a bra at night. 🙂


      • Vicki / Jan 13 2018 11:10 pm

        I never wear one, but that’s between you, me and your loyal followers 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jan 13 2018 11:15 pm

        Now you’re oozing sensibility.


  7. Debbie Harris / Jan 13 2018 6:12 pm

    Hi Peggy, I enjoyed reading your post and comparing your camping gear to these amazing outfits! I just love the last dress, how on earth did they ever sit comfortably or do anything?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 13 2018 10:55 pm

      Hi Debbie—that last dress threw me too. Scroll up a bit to the comment by Julie Manley. She fills in some of the background.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Debbie Harris / Jan 15 2018 1:52 pm

        Yes, I did see that earlier comment and thought it was very helpful and interesting to know the background.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jan 15 2018 2:58 pm

        Julie has very kindly added more detail below.


  8. thewonderer86 / Jan 13 2018 8:41 pm

    They are all beautiful, but I’d rather wear jeans and trainers …

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 13 2018 10:57 pm

      I don’t own jeans anymore—they take too long to dry on the line—but shorts and trainers are the way to go on any day.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Andrew Petcher / Jan 13 2018 9:01 pm

    A stunning collection. I loved my visit there!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Osyth / Jan 13 2018 9:05 pm

    Flip Flops we call them … thongs are the things that cut your gusset in half if you are so inclined! Even sitting on my sofa gazing at your pictures my head is spinning and my heart beating faster … I just adore beautiful clothes and these are beyond my meager descriptive vocabulary. For me, though the simplest of all is the loveliest. In the cabinet, the one that has a distinct Regency feel to it with the empire line and the simple (in comparison to all the others) skirt. Wonderful wonderful garments

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 13 2018 11:01 pm

      I love looking at beautiful clothes, but please don’t try to put them on me. I was back in Yass tonight and had to don another skirt and shoes to dine at the golf club—dress code!

      So I completely agree that simplicity is the way to go. Pass the shorts.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Osyth / Jan 13 2018 11:10 pm

        Bad luck on the skirt and proper shoes … I have a black tie event at the end of the month and I’m psyching myself into believing I really do want to dress up and wear make-up and do something a little more creative with my hair than shove it in a pony tale. What with that and having to coax HB2 into his DJ I shouldn’t think we’ll make it out of the front door!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jan 13 2018 11:13 pm

        Obviously, Poor John and HB2 are on the same page. I can only wish you luck. And if neither of you want to go, I can only wish you a good excuse.


  11. toutparmoi / Jan 13 2018 9:14 pm

    My favourite’s the ceremonial court dress – and I might even have been able to fit into it, once upon a very long time ago.

    Several years ago I visited a stately home in the UK where a door had been widened considerably so the lady of the household could walk through it full frontal (as opposed to sideways) when she was wearing a gown like the one in the last photo.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 13 2018 11:03 pm

      Oh my goodness. I’m glad at least one person knew of a widened doorway. The crazy things people do in the name of fashion.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Chris Riley / Jan 13 2018 9:50 pm

    My favourite is definitely the one you painted with words – the black Marino top and khaki shorts. The others look gorgeous, for sure, but I wouldn’t want to wear any of them. We’re so lucky to live in an age where we can actually wear comfortable clothing. Give me shorts and a T any day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 13 2018 11:05 pm

      Oh gosh, I’m so relieved that my daily wear gets a thumbs up. I’m in my pyjamas now, but will be back in uniform tomorrow.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chris Riley / Jan 14 2018 8:39 am

        I went for several years without owning even one dress. I have a couple now, but they rarely see the light of day (or night).


      • leggypeggy / Jan 14 2018 8:42 am

        Same here.


  13. pvcann / Jan 13 2018 10:02 pm

    amazing accomplisments in design, and I appreciate that, just hope none of it comes back, because while I like looking at it, I wouldn’t like to have to wear it. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 13 2018 11:06 pm

      You make an excellent point. Let’s hope none of this makes a comeback.

      Liked by 1 person

      • pvcann / Jan 13 2018 11:15 pm

        How many of those dresses would fit on a bus? Lol

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jan 14 2018 8:40 am

        Have you ever seen ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’? They got a tremendous amount of clothing on that bus. 🙂


  14. klmalcolm2014 / Jan 13 2018 10:35 pm

    I especially liked your story about buying the dark grey shirt. Lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 13 2018 11:06 pm

      I might branch out to light grey someday. 🙂


  15. beetleypete / Jan 13 2018 10:54 pm

    I recall looking at the clothing in The Hermitage, including a huge dress worn by Katherine The Great, giving some indication of how big she must have been. There is so much stuff in that museum, it could easily have its own blog.
    One thing that struck me then, seeing such opulence, “was it any wonder there was a revolution?”
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Yeah, Another Blogger / Jan 13 2018 10:59 pm

    Hello Peggy. Very interesting to read about your daily attire.

    As for the dresses, I like the grey and gold dress shown in the fourth photo.

    Take care —

    Neil S.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 13 2018 11:10 pm

      Thanks Neil. Your favourite is a really lovely dress. Would you like to see a larger pic of it? I did take one.


  17. leggypeggy / Jan 13 2018 11:09 pm
  18. Chic Living Miami / Jan 14 2018 1:20 am

    Great post! as a fashion student always love seeing mid century designs and details. Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Monica Graff / Jan 14 2018 1:52 am

    I’d love to go back in time and wear such finery. But I think I would end up quite dehydrated. Why drink liquids when you would have to tackle a chamber pot with all those many layers and a whalebone corset? Can you imagine?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 14 2018 8:46 am

      Oh my gosh, that would be dreadful. I’ll stick to shorts and t-shirts.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. dfolstad58 / Jan 14 2018 3:09 am

    The first dress of Maria fedororva I liked the most. I also wear casual mostly, jeans and t-shirts, but getting dressed up is occasionally fun also. Thanks for the black dress story reminder, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 14 2018 8:51 am

      That first dress is amazing. There was another very similar one, but in dark blue.


  21. Oh, the Places We See / Jan 14 2018 8:20 am

    Incredible work on these garments. I can’t imagine spending my days embellishing fine fabrics. But glad someone did!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 14 2018 8:52 am

      Hard to imagine how many hours went into each outfit.


  22. Curt Mekemson / Jan 14 2018 11:20 am

    Ah, Peggy, I am totally with you when it comes to fashion. If I can’t hike out my back door and up the mountain behind me in whatever I am wearing, I don’t need to wear it. 🙂 I once walked into a large event honoring a California Legislator for his work in the environmental and heath field and he stopped mid-sentence and said, “Wow, now I know I am truly being honored. Mekemson has a tie on.” The dresses are impressive, however. –Curt

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Julie Manley / Jan 14 2018 12:12 pm

    Well, to be honest, I don’t actually like most of them, even though I can fully appreciate the skill and many hours of work that went into most of these dresses. They are pretentious and overblown, crammed with as much ornamentation and one can possibly fit onto the fabric, made to impress, intimidate, and ultimately enforce authority. Most of the crafts men and women who spent many hours labouring over these clothes got nothing, and they represent accumulated wealth from feudal slavery that could have educated entire villages. I’m not saying people in power can’t dress appropriately, or that the state (or whoever is in power), can’t spent money on beautiful things, but the Russian aristocracy went a tiny bit overboard, as did the French, and look what happened to them. I can’t look at one without seeing the other side of it, and it is perhaps good to be reminded.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 14 2018 2:11 pm

      You make excellent and important points, Julie. It’s depressing to see how money was and is squandered in an attempt to impress. Today tremendous waste is thrown into the mix.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Sheryl / Jan 14 2018 2:25 pm

    The outfits are beautiful. I’ve enjoyed reading the comments. It’s interesting to think about the people who wore these clothes and the context.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 14 2018 2:34 pm

      I wonder if any of the women’s pieces were worn more than once?


      • Julie Manley / Jan 14 2018 7:00 pm

        Yes they were worn more than once, but they weren’t washed. Linen was worn underneath to protect the valuable dress fabric. They may not have been worn by the same person though. Typically a high status woman (say Queen Elizabeth I for example) gave her very expensive dresses (she left a wardrobe of over 3000 dresses) to one of her ladies in waiting, which was considered an honour and was a gift of great value. The dresses were so valuable they were recycled down the social scale as much as possible, or until the dress style changed so radically they could not longer be altered into a suitable gown ( e.g. after the French revolution). In the case of Marie-Antionette, I think they were looted or destroyed, as was the case after the Russian revolution I guess. They are lucky to have salvaged what they have.

        I’ve just noticed that the last dress consists of only the overdress, everything underneath is just to display what is left of this dress. There would have been a load more to it – an embroidered stomacher, petticoat with handmade lace, possible lace on the sleeves, etc. Everything about these extras was so valuable they were fully removable. Thousands of hours of incredible skill. Dresses were not just one garment, they were many different pieces combined.

        That is at least the saving grace of these clothes, they were valued and recycled until there was nothing left to re-use. Their historical value is incalculable, no one could make this again. Ah, probably bored you to death by now…

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jan 14 2018 7:18 pm

        Oh Julie, I so value all the explanation you have shared here, and I’m sure others appreciate it too. Your comments underline how lucky we are to be able to see any of these garments. Wishing I had taken pics of everything.

        Liked by 1 person

  25. gerard oosterman / Jan 14 2018 2:33 pm

    Very fashionable and not a threadbare knee or holed leggings to show. Good shots, Peggy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 14 2018 2:35 pm

      Gerard, the threadbare and holed clothing is on me!


  26. Julie Manley / Jan 14 2018 7:01 pm

    PS, hoping to go to the Hermitage later this year, or at least Russia.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 14 2018 7:15 pm

      Be sure to set aside hours and hours to spend at the Hermitage. Maybe even days.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. adventuredawgs / Jan 15 2018 3:57 am

    I see that we have similar taste in fashion. Give me my convertible cargo pants, a T-shirt shirt, and sandals and I’m a happy camper. That’s not to say that those dresses aren’t gorgeous. Putting one on would be like a fairy tale and I’d be too scared to move because I’d likely trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Touch Of Cinnamon / Jan 15 2018 7:17 am

    Such elegant and beautiful clothes. Thanks for the wonderful photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 15 2018 10:23 am

      You are most welcome. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  29. jeanleesworld / Jan 15 2018 2:06 pm

    I had to laugh when you said thongs. My dad had thong sandals, too, so of course that’s what I called them. I couldn’t get why on earth people started calling them flip-flops. Well, we are the country that decided to call a military communication device “walkie-talkie.” 🙂 But as a habitual frump, I too can appreciate such the finer wear–especially when I don’t have to wear it. 🙂 Imagine how much time it took to sew such beauties by hand! xxxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 15 2018 2:55 pm

      Oh yay! Another person who calls them thongs. They were always called thongs when I was a kid in Nebraska. No idea when and why the meaning changed.

      But the dresses. My mind boggles to think how long and how many people it took to make one of them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeanleesworld / Jan 15 2018 10:52 pm

        I know! And imagine having to stitch perfectly by candlelight. And to stitch hour, after hour, after hour. I just cannot fathom.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jan 15 2018 11:38 pm

        I find it hard to sit still to sew on a button!


  30. Brian Lageose / Jan 15 2018 2:58 pm

    The opening shot reminded me of a lovely ensemble that I once wore to the Pawhuska Cotillion, so I decided to drag that little frock out to confirm the resemblance, only to discover that what I had sported looked much more like the teal number on the left in the next to last photo. Ah, how we gild our memories… 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  31. thebellestyle / Jan 15 2018 7:19 pm

    Hi Peggy, thank you for posting! Those dresses are so lovely and incredible brilliant ♥


    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 15 2018 9:12 pm

      You are most welcome. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Your blog looks fascinating.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Phil Huston / Jan 16 2018 3:16 am

    The fancy dress thing is amazing, even in concept. Beautiful and it had to be miserable as well. There’s a good deal of William Morris in the yellowish goldish liturgical vestment. Or a lot if that in Morris. Some saddles, I look at them, and the same thing happens as when I look at those racing bicycle seats that are no more than the pole and and stiff dish sponge. I mean, who designed those things, anyway? Give me a western saddle any day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 16 2018 6:58 am

      Oh my Phil, you gave me a good laugh with ‘the pole and stiff dish sponge’. I’m partial to western saddles too.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. jerseydreaming / Jan 16 2018 4:17 am

    What a magnificent place to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Lynz Real Cooking / Jan 16 2018 9:06 am

    I love hearing how you dress and seeing these garments! Stunning

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 16 2018 11:30 am

      Oh my, you made me laugh. There’s a long way between how I dress and these magnificent garments!

      Liked by 1 person

  35. potluckycom / Jan 16 2018 5:04 pm

    I pretty much wear variations of gray all the time. I find that’s what is on sale or fits me first. However, my closet is filled with all colors and types of clothes. The gowns in Hermitage Museum were magnificent. Given the opportunity I would dress like that in a flash and throw away my old gray Nikes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 16 2018 6:04 pm

      My closet is filled with colour too, but I’ve worn almost none of it in the last eight years. Can’t say I’d be keen to don one of the dresses here. I already weigh enough! 🙂


  36. Steph McCoy / Jan 17 2018 3:06 am

    Neiman Marcus once said “Women who wear black lead colorful lives” so you’re good Peg. Here in the US we used to refer to THAT footwear as thongs also. Or maybe I’m just dating myself. Looking at these dresses makes me wonder if women back in the day didn’t have hot flashes. Can you imagine trying to appear calm, cool, and collected with your little fan and a hot flash pops up? With all the finery they wore they had to be hot as Hades.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 17 2018 8:35 am

      I love that quote!!! Not only were those dresses hot to wear, I think they weighed a lot. I read somewhere that one of them weighed 42 pounds!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Steph McCoy / Jan 17 2018 9:23 am

        On No!! There’s no way in heck I’d wear one of those dresses. They’re pretty to look at but that amount of weight (I’ve seen some heavier) I couldn’t pull it off. Kudos to them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jan 17 2018 10:18 pm

        Oh trust me, I couldn’t pull it off either. Wouldn’t even want to try.


  37. chattykerry / Jan 17 2018 7:13 am

    Fabulous! Look at the size of those tiny waists – I once had a 24 inch waist…😸

    Liked by 2 people

  38. marple25mary / Jan 18 2018 11:44 am

    Those gowns are divine, but i imagine heavy. Beatiful look at, but i could never wear, especially in July. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 18 2018 1:36 pm

      Yes, wearing one would be like dragging around an anvil.


  39. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Jan 18 2018 8:34 pm

    Wouldn’t it be fun to wear one of these dresses for a few minutes? Of course, you probably can’t breathe and aren’t supposed to eat, have no idea how you’d use a bathroom, but this isn’t about being practical – it’s about being a show. So, on for a few minutes and then right off again. I so love hanging out in my lightweight pants and shirts. Thanks for letting me travel with you.

    Liked by 2 people

  40. Cecilia / Jan 19 2018 2:01 am

    The dresses, details like the saddles, everything is just stunning! So much luxury and sense for beauty!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 19 2018 8:19 am

      It is amazing to see the detail and opulence that went into all the pieces.


  41. Christy B / Jan 19 2018 12:09 pm

    Oh my! I can only imagine how heavy some of those outfits are to wear! They are so ornate 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jan 19 2018 9:39 pm

      I guess we can’t really imagine how much they weighed, but it would have been a lot.

      Liked by 1 person


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