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Crowned sisters: object analysis of court dress during Queen Alexandra and Empress Marie Feodorovna's influential reigns

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posted on 22.05.2021, 17:54 by Elizabeth Emily Mackey
This Major Research Paper examines female court dress regulations during Queen Alexandra of England and her younger sister, Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia’s tenures as societal heads during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Through object analysis of a court gown of Queen Alexandra’s from the Royal Ontario Museum, and a Russian Maid of Honour’s court gown from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, this research compares how each nation utilized court dress to express wealth, and if the court dress of each nation could communicate the wearer’s court rank within a foreign court. While both nation’s court dress communicated wealth, the motives were different: England’s court dress was highly influenced by fashion trends, whereas Imperial Russian court dress was unchanging in its appearance as its primary purpose was to display a national character. Combining the analysis of each court gown with secondary research and the theory of Thorstein Veblen regarding luxury dress, this paper concludes that each nation’s court dress was highly communicative of a wearer’s rank and wealth.





Master of Arts



Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type