Dress of the Week – Maria Feodorovna

26 November 2013

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The Empress Maria Feodorovna, wife of the Emperor Alexander III, sister of Queen Alexandra of England and mother of Nicholas II was born at the Yellow Palace in Copenhagen on this day, 26th November in 1847. The baby princess was daughter of Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (later King Christian IX of Denmark) and his wife Princess Louise and would be originally christened Dagmar – she changed her name to Maria in 1866 before her marriage.

A woman of the most immense charm, beauty and a winningly gregarious personality, Maria quickly became something of a leader of fashion thanks to her gorgeously elegant ensembles, many of which came from the Parisian fashion house of Worth.

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Mourning dress belonging to the Empress Maria Feodorovna, 1880s. Photo: State Hermitage Museum.

I picked this stunning Worth mourning dress from the 1880s as my dress of the week as I’ve been looking at a lot of mourning dresses from this period as part of my research for the opening chapters of the Ripper Book Sequel, which starts with a funeral and it’s probably the most elegant that I have yet seen. There’s also something a bit Disney Villainess about it, isn’t there? I think it’s superb.

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Ball gown worn by the Empress Maria Feodorovna, c1886. Photo: State Historical Museum, Moscow.

What about this amazing ball gown though? It was made by the highly exclusive Parisian fashion house of Corbay-Wenzel and is just as magnificent as anything Worth produced, as befits a dress worn by an elegant Empress.

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Gown worn by the Empress Maria Feodorovna, 1894. Photo: Hermitage Museum.

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Gown worn by the Empress Maria Feodorovna, 1890s. Photo: Hermitage Museum.

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Court gown worn by the Empress Maria Feodorovna, 1870s. Photo: Hermitage Museum.

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Court gown worn by the Empress Maria Feodorovna, 1880s. Photo: Hermitage Museum.

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Court gown worn by the Empress Maria Feodorovna, Izambard Chanceau, 1880s. Photo: Hermitage Museum.

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Evening gown worn by the Empress Maria Feodorovna, Worth, 1894. Photo: Hermitage Museum.

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Evening gown worn by the Empress Maria Feodorovna, Worth, 1898. Photo: Hermitage Museum.

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Evening gown worn by the Empress Maria Feodorovna, Worth, 1898. Photo: Hermitage Museum.

There’s some really beautiful dresses still in existence that were once worn by the Empress Maria. It’s really quite astonishing and so wonderful that these wonderful outfits escaped the mayhem of the Revolution so that even now we can get a breathtaking glimpse of the gorgeousness that typified the final decades of the Russian court.

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Set against the infamous Jack the Ripper murders of autumn 1888 and based on the author’s own family history, From Whitechapel is a dark and sumptuous tale of bittersweet love, friendship, loss and redemption and is available NOW from Amazon UK, Amazon US and Burning Eye.

‘Frothy, light hearted, gorgeous. The perfect summer read.’ Minette, my young adult novel of 17th century posh doom and intrigue is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US and is CHEAP AS CHIPS as we like to say in dear old Blighty.

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