We posted about our excitement in seeing just one dress from HBO’s upcoming Catherine the Great miniseries starring Helen Mirren. Well, we’ve now had TWO whole trailers, plus some of the costumes went on exhibit for a few days in London, so let’s take a look at what costume designer Maja Meschede is doing!
Here’s the US trailer. There’s also a British trailer that was hard to find or embed, but you can watch it at the Daily Fail.
First, we’ve got the blue dress we’ve already seen – but now it’s also been on exhibit! Sky TV’s press release has some information about the costumes. I’m not positive, but I think they are describing this dress when they say,
“This dress takes inspiration from a gown that Catherine the Great wore in August 1772 on the anniversary of her coronation, which defined the style of ceremonial dress for the Russian Imperial Court until the end of its existence. [Costume designer] Maja Meschede says, ‘This blue dress fuses the style of a Russian peasant dress with the fashionable French silhouette and features embroideries made from gold and silver threads, pearl beading and rushed [sic – ruched!] sleeves’” (Catherine the Great reigns supreme as Sky reveals a new gallery of images set to feature in exclusive costume exhibition at the BFI Radio Times Festival).
As Sarah pointed out in her sneak preview, it looks very much like this portrait by Alexandre Roslin:
Here’s a very similar gold number with tons and tons of embroidery. According to Sky TV’s press release,
“Catherine wears this golden gown for her Nakaz – an important ceremonial speech the Empress gives to her followers. Costumer designer, Maja Meschede says of the costume: ‘I wanted Catherine to look powerful and untouchable, the embodiment of Russianness. It took a month to complete the elaborate bead and pearl embroideries, which reflect Russian national costume. As a personal touch for Helen, we stitched the letters HM in pearls on the back of the cloak by the neck'” (Catherine the Great reigns supreme as Sky reveals a new gallery of images set to feature in exclusive costume exhibition at the BFI Radio Times Festival).
At first I thought this silver-dress was the same as the blue one above, but I’m seeing buttons down the center front and a different trim pattern on the skirt:
Catherine was known for cross-dressing and wearing military-style ensembles:
According to Sky,
“Catherine the Great was a great patron of the Guards’ regiments, who had done much to bring her to power. The Empress would have a riding habit made in accordance with the uniform of each regiment and wore the garment to appear before officers on regimental holidays. Costumer designer, Maja Meschede elaborates: ‘This riding habit honours the Preobrazhensky Lifeguard Regiment, one of the oldest and most elite guard regiments of the Imperial Russian Army. It combines features of a uniform with Russian national costume and elements of the French fashion that was widespread in Russia at the time'” (Catherine the Great reigns supreme as Sky reveals a new gallery of images set to feature in exclusive costume exhibition at the BFI Radio Times Festival).
Here’s the real Catherine wearing that uniform:
She’s also shown wearing a military-style dress, which is 100% accurate:
Here’s the very real Preobrazhensky uniform dress worn by Catherine, 1763. I remember seeing this in a museum decades ago and thinking Catherine was VERY short and VERY round.
A featured event in the trailers is a cross-dressed ball, with the men in gowns and women in suits. Catherine’s suit was also on exhibit. According to Sky,
“History tells us that Transvestite balls were a favourite pastime of Catherine the Great’s court, a tradition she continued from the Empress Elizabeth. Maja adds, ‘Catherine the Great often used strategies of gender concealment or disguise. With the transvestite ball, we can see how she seemed to enjoy making a public display of a mixed gender identity'” (Catherine the Great reigns supreme as Sky reveals a new gallery of images set to feature in exclusive costume exhibition at the BFI Radio Times Festival).
Here’s a few of Catherine’s less-seen-in-the-trailers costumes:
Will you be watching Catherine the Great when it comes to HBO?