A lot has been written over the years about movie costumes and how in some cases the costume designers really try to recreate historical dresses, and yet in most cases no matter how beautiful and fitting the dress seems for the time period, once you dig deeper you realise that it was in fact not historically accurate. So instead of talking about movie dresses, we thought today we’d tell you about some pretty incredible historical dresses that have actually been made for some very wealthy and worn by them on special occasions. Many of these dresses are still kept in museums to preserve as works of art.
1. The Peacock Dress
This dress was made for Mary Curzon who was the Baroness of Kedleston to wear to the celebration of the Coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. It was designed by Jean-Philippe Worth personally for Baroness Curzon. The dress was made from chiffon fabric that was then embellished by gold and silver thread, and when we say golden we mean the metal, not just a golden coloured thread. It was then sent to Paris, France where it was styled into a two-piece dress that consisted of a bodice and a skirt. A long train that ended in roses made of chiffon was added in Paris too and then the dress was sent back to India. The overall effect was incredible. The golden and silver threads were hand-stitched in a pattern resembling peacock feathers and those green “eyes” that look like gems are actually made out of beetle wings. This dress is now kept in a museum in a glass case to help monitor the temperature and humidity around it in order to prevent it from getting ruined. Since the metal thread in the dress makes it not only heavy (it’s 4.5 kg) but also very susceptible to damage.
2. Sisi’s Dress
This beautiful dress was made for Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who’s nickname was Sisi. It was made by Charles Frederick Worth. If you look closely you’ll notice that it looks incredibly similar, we’d even go as far as saying it’s nearly identical to the one worn by Emmy Rossum in the Phantom of the Opera. This dress can be seen in a museum in Vienna. They had a whole exhibition on Sisi’s Corfu Couture, called that because she owned a palace in Corfu, a Greek island, and she loved dressing up in some pretty spectacular dresses.
3. Marie Antoinette Chemise
Marie Antoinette was such a fashionista that whatever she deemed fashionable had the power to make or break a fashion trend and influence the fashion industry not only in France but in all of Europe. Many of her beautiful and intricate dresses with skirts as wide as they are long have been immortalised in paintings, but it’s her simple cotton dress that became known as “chemise a la reine” that cause the most uproar because not only did it looks similar to undergarments of the time, but it was also made out of cotton which is a really long chain of events caused a boom of slavery to produce more cotton to sustain the new fashionable cotton dresses.
4. Maria Alexandrovna Coronation Dress
Maria Alexandrovna a.k.a. As Maria of Hasse was the wife of Russian Emperor Alexander II. This dress was made in St. Petersburg specifically for the coronation. Maria was 32 years old at the time of the event and has been married to Alexander II for 16 years already. The dress was made to resemble the fashionable at the time European dresses with some Russian elements to keep it on point for the occasion. It’s decorated with silver embroidery and has been kept in the Kremlin for years as a work of art. But not only is it impressive enough to be kept in a museum, but it also inspired the curtains at the Mariinsky theatre in St.Petersburg, which was actually named after the Empress herself.
5. Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Dress
Queen Elizabeth the 2nd is a very stylish lady, you can still see it to this day when she wears her colour-coordinated outfits for all the special occasions and ceremonies that she attends. But her coronation dress is definitely one of the most impressive dresses she’s ever worn. It was designed by Norman Hartnell and it actually took 8 months of hard work to create. A lot of thought and effort went into it. The Queen wanted her dress to be made of satin, just like her wedding dress. It also includes embroidery elements that signify all the countries of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth nations. So it has the English rose, an Irish shamrock, the Scottish thistle, the Welsh leek, a maple leaf for Canada, a wattle for Australia and so on. The Queen actually got to wear it a few times after the coronation, for opening parliaments in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Ceylon.