ca. 1830 Tsaritsa Alexandra Feodorovna by Carl Timoleon von Neff (Timofey Neff; Pavlovsk State Museum)

Alexandra Feodorovna wears the style of court dress that would prevail until the end of the Romanov regime.

The Alexander Palace Time Machine Website has an excellent article about Russian court dress: "As part of his vast efforts to codify the organization of the Court and State, Nicholas I and Count M.M. Speransky published the Code of Laws of the Russian Empire in 1833. This massive set of laws incorporated everything pertaining to the Empire, from the Role of the Emperor, to the rights of Russian subjects. In addition to the 40 volumes of civil laws, there was a single volume reserved for the laws enacted during the reign of Nicholas I himself; and one of these laws was the Edict on Court Dress.

The edict specified that women at the Russian court were to wear 'Russian Dress Uniforms.' (Paradnaya Plat'e) This was initially described as 'a white embroidered silk gown, with an embroidered velvet overdress with long, open sleeves in the Muscovite style.' The skirts were rouched and fastened at the waist, held together by a gold cord. The shape of the skirt was bell-like and full, the sleeves slightly puffed at the shoulders. This was a combination of the current 'Romantic' style of fashion, and the ancient Russian style. As a result, this costume reflected the Russian nationalist traditions so favored by Nicholas I, and its usage became law. These dresses were extraordinarily cumbersome and heavy, the bodices tightly boned. The dress trains were interlined and reinforced to support the great weight of the gold embroidery. Though picturesque, the dresses were unwieldy, and women of the court began to refer to dressing for Court occasions as 'putting on the armor.'

While other courts moved on, changing and adapting the dress of their courts, Russia stayed firmly in its Slavic historical mode, and so, from 1834 until 1917, the unusual ethnic dresses of Russian court ladies became instantly recognizable, and a source of pride at home and abroad - Russian women stood out in foreign courts, and at home they made an  unforgettable impression on visitors and natives.

The first change to this new dress happened in the 1840s, when the velvet overdress (sarafan) and silk under dress (caftan) were adapted to fit contemporary corseted fashions. The costume became three separate pieces, rather than two; an embroidered white silk underskirt, over which was placed a waist-hung train, and a corseted bodice which incorporated the long muscovite sleeves and an embroidered white silk 'corsage.' The illusion of the assembled tripartite gown was similar in effect to that of a robe worn over an under dress.

Also required to be worn was the Kokoshnik, a diadem-like headdress. For women of the Imperial family these were originally jewel-studded velvet, with pearl-trimmed plain velvet for their attendants. Long, floor-length tulle veils were worn by married ladies. By the late nineteenth century, however, most women of the Imperial family had abandoned this simpler style in favor of tiaras made entirely of precious stones retaining the prescribed kokoshnik shape. These stunning works by Faberge and Bolin were masterpieces of the Russian jeweler's art, and became very fashionable throughout Europe; the Tiare Russe became a staple of jewelers such as Cartier, Boucheron, Chaumet, and others..."

Keywords:  1830, von Neff, Tsaritsa Alexandra Feodrovna (1798-1860), Hohenzollern family, Romanov family, Tsaritsa, Russian, hurluberlu coiffure, crown, off shoulder vee neckline, modesty piece, Russian sleeves, lining, vee waistline, full skirt, order sash, order star, necklace, jeweled bodice, jeweled skirt, bracelets, shoes, robes, gloves, fan

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