Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dress of the Week: Catherine II's Uniform Dress

My recent trip to Russia has turned my head a little. I can't help but browse The Hermitage Museum collection in search of pretty treasures. And so today's Dress of the Week is Catherine the Great's uniform gown.  

Catherine was not a fashionista, but she was a clever woman and a pretty sensible monarch. Even before she came to the throne, she was on very friendly terms with the army. As an Empress, she had to reaffirm this connection through dress. She owned quite a few uniform dresses, many of which are now in the collection of the Hermitage Museum.         

The Hermitage archive, unfortunately, does not give any details about this 1789 gown modeled after the uniform of the Life-Guards Cavalry Regiment. It seems to be a heavy fabric dress similar to a redingote with large buttons and gold trimmings and a light red or pink petticoat. The dress looks so very comfy for a stroll in the parks of Tsarskoye Selo or rallying the troops when you're planning to deposit and assassinate your husband. A very versatile gown.     

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dress of the Week: Blue Carriage Dress

As a young lady of the world, I enjoy travel. But a journey could be arduous if one doesn't have the the right gown. Fortunately for me, today's Dress of the Week is perfect for my purposes.

Carriage Dress, Ackermann's Repository, June 1823
While this lady chose to travel by carriage, I will be taking a train. Still, one cannot go wrong with a comfortable blue dress with caped shoulders and frogging down the front. A pretty little gauze cap will help protect one's hair. And to avoid looking too dowdy, the cap can be decorated with flowers. And, of course, a quizzing glass is not just an accessory, it's a necessity. How else am I to admire the beautiful countryside swishing by. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Trip to St Petersburg: The Hermitage

Continuing my posts about St Petersburg, here is another one. This time a few pictures from The Hermitage Museum.

Gates of the Winter Palace - ornate and beautiful. There is something very lace-like about cast iron. 

You enter the state rooms by way of the Grand Staircase. Every inch of it is decorated and it can seem pretty overwhelming at first. They don't call it 'grand' for nothing.     

If you don't care for gold and marble, you shouldn't bother with the Winter Palace. If this type of slender and magnificence isn't your thing, it may seem a bit much.     

The ballroom is quite a sight. The picture doesn't do it justice. The right side of the room is all windows, separated by gilded columns. On the other side are mirrors mimicking the windows in shape and size and reflecting light back into the ball room. Add to that a few magnificent chandeliers and a gilded balcony railing, and I imagine dancing in such a place would be quite a treat.

The mosaic floor in the Peacock clock room. The detail is absolutely amazing.   

This fountain with marble basin and levels of marble shells can be found in the same room. It's a little to the side and feels very random. Almost like someone though, "hey, you know what would make this room even better? A little seashell fountain in that corner over there."  

Nicolas II's library is done up in neo-gothic style. It is made completely out of wood with a large marble fireplace dominating the scene. They say there is a secret passage that leads from  the library to the inner gardens of the palace.

The marble fireplace in the Nicolas II's library. 

While the state rooms may look gaudy with the excess of ornaments and gold, the private rooms have a decidedly down to earth look and feel about them. This little room with a bassinet looks very cozy.     

Art Nouveau was called  "Modern" in Russia and while the movement was mostly cut short by WWI and the Revolution, there are still a few beautiful pieces around, like this display cabinet.   

I didn't take any pictures of the artwork - it seemed a little redundant - but this little statue of a beggar Cupid concealed by a veil was too good to pass. 

And thus concludes my gallery of St  Petersburg. As I will be visiting Moscow soon, I'm going to try and post a few pictures from that trip. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

DIY Flower Headband

I'm in a very summery mood and I keep seeing these really pretty flower headbands all over Tumblr.

Ioana by Martha.butterflycaught on Flickr
The great thing about them is that they're super easy to make. Here's what you'll need:

  • Flowers with bendable wire stems 
  • Headband
  • Wire cutters 
1.Take your headband. I got a green one from my local accessories store, but a plain plastic would do the trick. 2. Take your paper or ribbon flower and place it on the headband. 3. Wrap the stem around the headband. 4. Cut off any excess wire and press to secure the flower in place.

Ta-da! You've got yourself a pretty accessory for all those picnics in the park.

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