In February 1903, the members of the Romanov dynasty and the cream of the Russian aristocracy gathered for a fancy-dress costume ball, one that in its sheer opulence was nearly blinding. Outside the Winter Palace, the social pressures that would hurl the country into revolution were intensifying, but 14 years before the forced abdication of Czar Nicolas II, the society of St. Petersburg put on quite a show, dubbed by many Europe’s “last great royal ball”.
The 1903 costume ball was dedicated to the 290th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, which was at the time one of Europe’s oldest ruling families and almost certainly the one with the most absolutist powers. Russian artist Olga Shirnina has brought this ball to life with some amazing colorized images.
A party given on February 11, 1903, in the Winter Palace was followed two days later by a grandiose fancy dress ball. Called “The 1903 Ball,” it remains the most celebrated festivity arranged in St. Petersburg during the reign of Nicholas II, the last Romanov.
The nearly 400 guests arrived in bejeweled 17th-century style costumes, created from designs by artist Sergey Solomko, after consulting closely with historical experts. Court ladies wore dresses embroidered with precious stones and kokoshniks (head-dresses) adorned with the finest family jewels, while the men donned richly decorated caftans and boyar-style fur hats. For the Romanov costume ball, guests took 38 original royal items of the 17th century from the Armory in Moscow to use in this 1903 extravaganza.
Nicholas himself was robed in the gold brocade of 17th-century Russian tsar Alexey Mikhailovich, and his wife, Alexandra, wore the raiments of the first wife of Alexey Mikhailovich, Empress Maria Ilinichna. The 20th-century czarina was born in the German royal family of Hesse, and she was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.
See entire article and photos here: https://www.thevintagenews.com/2019/07/16/romanov-costume-ball-1903/?fbclid=IwAR0kBD6AB9MYXTNoBCqflh3aNZn2D3GoL-hA2QESBDcjVHm9XB37OwTFK6Q
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