Elizaveta Petrovna - the first "dandy" of the empire

Having ascended to the throne, Elizaveta Petrovna immediately declared her loyalty to the precepts of her father, the continuity of his vision of the development of the country. Introducing a moratorium on the death penalty, in force until the very end of her reign, she repeated Peter's orders about the need to shave a beard and wear a European costume. A passionate lover of the Baroque, the empress introduced a desire for luxury and grandeur even in trifles, so that the Russian imperial court of the 1740s and 50s was known as one of the most sophisticated in Europe: the high-ranking nobles “looked for richer, in the table - all that is more precious, in drinking — all that is less, in service — by renewing the old number of ministers, they applied to it pomp in their attire. ” Thus, the pomp of the situation and excess in clothes became a measure of social importance and an obligatory attribute of belonging to the upper class.

The empress's wardrobe counted over 15 thousand dresses.

From the very childhood, contemporaries recalled how the little tsarevna met her father, who returned from foreign negotiations in 1717, flaunting opportunities in the traditional Spanish attire, and during the year the regular assemblies show off to the public in dresses embroidered with silver and gold, in a brilliantly adorned headdress. On the famous portrait of that time, the elegant Elizabeth is depicted with wings behind her back — girls often were given such an accessory before the age of majority. As for the rest of the fun of young Elizabeth, her upbringing in fact boiled down to a typical set of skills and abilities that were part of the educational standard of the Russian noblewoman of subsequent eras: reading French novels, dance lessons and etiquette. Note, however, that the future of Peter’s daughter was very clear - as the wife of the French king Louis XV, whose marriage was actively lobbied by the Russian tsar.

The quaint style of Baroque patterns and ornaments seems to be very much in line with Elizaveta Petrovna’s worldview, in whose character the irrepressible passion for fun and sincere piety were successfully combined, “according to Kliuchevskii’s apt remark,“ from vespers she went to the ball, and from the ball she was able to in the morning, she reverently honored the shrines and rituals of the Russian church, wrote out from Paris descriptions of the court of Versailles banquets and festivals and knew all the gastronomic secrets of Russian cuisine to the most subtlety. ” Restrained by the unfaithfulness of the previous ruler of Anna Ivanovna, the craving for luxury was released from the very beginning of Elizabeth's reign: in the memoirs of Catherine II, “the ladies at that time were occupied only with clothes, and the luxury was brought to the fact that they changed the toilet at least twice a day ... The game and the toilet filled the day. ” The theatricalization of behavior and the public image, so characteristic of the European culture of the gallant century (the origins are rooted in the image of the "Sun King" Louis XIV), was embodied in the morals and character of the Russian empress.

Domestic policy interested Elizabeth to a much lesser extent than the unification of the dresses of her courtiers, so they regularly issue many edicts for the empress's authorship regulating fashion trends: for example, it was necessary to come to the ball every time in a new dress, and by order of Elizabeth, the guardsmen even marked special inks Seals of guests ’outfits so that those marked do not dare to appear in the community in old clothes. A regular court position became suppliers “buyers” of Parisian fashionable novelties - goods that, having gained popularity in their homeland, immediately went to St. Petersburg, where the empress meticulously selected samples of fabrics and ornaments.

After the death of Elizabeth, her dresses were used in productions.

Elizabeth at one time was perceived as a real beauty. So, Catherine II, who did not hide her admiration, wrote: “I would like to look without taking my eyes off her, and only with regret could they be torn off from her, since there was not a single object that would be equal to her”. The empress always sought to take advantage of this natural beauty, all in the same playful, theatrical manner - arranging masquerade balls or “metamorphoses” as these court entertainments were called. The main idea was a form of travesty, when men dressed in women's dresses, and women were forced to try on men's clothes. The autocratic power of the empress unconditionally extended to everyday cultural practices: by decree of Elizabeth, all the ladies of the court had to shave their heads and wear black wigs. The reason for this very harsh decree organically fit into the psychological image of the empress: unable to completely remove the paint from her hair, she had to cut her hair and, in order to temper her worries, she ordered her subjects to share the grief. In her order, all of a sudden all the ladies put on short whale-bowed half-skirts with pink skirts, with even shorter Cossacks from white taffeta, and white hats, lined with pink taffeta, raised from two sides and coming down over the eyes. Catherine II commented ironically on this situation: “Shrouded in this way, we looked like crazy people, but it was from obedience.”

The Empress showed a noticeable royal envy of the dresses of her courtiers, especially women, who, as she thought, could surpass in luxury the brightness of the clothes of the royal personage. The stats lady of the court, Natalia Lopukhina, who appeared at the ball in a royal dress-like dress, Elizabeth publicly smacked her cheeks, after which the unfortunate woman fainted, unable to bear the humiliation. Seeing that her rival was ill, the empress yanked out: “Nishto her, you fool!”, And subsequently subjected Lopukhin to a cruel execution. An even greater insult was caused to Elizabeth by recalling her failed bridegroom Louis XV, who, wanting to laugh at one of her maids-of-honor, said: “How funny you are today dressed like a Russian queen!” The empress reacted very harshly to the story she told her, which resulted in a serious cooling of Russian-French relations.

Klyuchevsky about Elizabeth: "Lively and cheerful, but not taking her eyes off her"

Over the years, the empress's health became weaker, and beauty gradually faded: a passionate lover of celebrations and court balls, she now appeared less and less often in society. Foreigners, who were at that time at the Russian court, wrote that the empress refused to engage in public affairs, and had to wait half a year to discuss with her the signing of a letter or decree. The Empress was very superstitious (the word "death" was tabooed unofficially), and therefore, when in the autumn of 1761 a strong thunderstorm broke out in the newly built residence in Tsarskoye Selo, Elizabeth considered such a riot of elements a bad omen. And the sad foreboding justified itself: on December 25, the Empress died. Even on her deathbed, Elizabeth kept royal majesty and solemnity, when "in a luxurious silver robe with lace sleeves and a golden crown on her head, she, even going to the next world, was dressed like a true fashionista."

Watch the video: The Romanovs. The History of the Russian Dynasty - Episode 4. Documentary Film. Babich-Design (November 2019).

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