Russian Elegance – Book Review

Absolutely stunning and unusual.  This is a real treasure of a book.  Based on costume collections in the State History Museum Russia, it shows how clothes have reflected lifestyles and traditions across the centuries.

It looks at traditional Russian dress  worn by peasants, merchants and the gentry on a daily basis, as well as festival wear.  The colors, styles and embroidery are incredible.  The amount of work involved in creating some of these costumes reveals an incredible amount of skill. 

The latter part of the book shows how costumes were influenced by Parisian and Western European styles – yet still retained an intrinsically Russian element being interpreted in brighter colors and more decorative features.  The illustrations are superb, and include many examples that would otherwise be unknown to most people unless they were lucky enough to visit the museum in person. 

This is a book that is essential reading for costume designers, artists, and filmmakers, as well as anyone interested in social history.