Sunday, 23 November 2008

Magnificence of the Tsars at the V&A

"In the reign of Henry VIII, an insouciant English visitor to the court of Ivan the Terrible failed to doff his hat to the Tsar. Ivan had it nailed to his head. He also beat his pregnant daughter for being inappropriately dressed and caused her to miscarry. The etiquette of dress really mattered. It was just as important in the courts of the barbaric Slavs as in genteel England, with all our disembowellings, burnings and beheadings.

For both the Tudors and the Tsars, wealth was power. The ostentation of power created authority. Wealth, power and authority were displayed by dress. Dress was governed by sumptuary legislation - restrictions on what could be worn by whom. And thus, by the laws of dress, extreme and deliberate social inequalities were displayed, stratified and enforced."(The Guardian)

Magnificence of the Tsars: Ceremonial Men's Dress of the Russian Imperial Court, 1721-1917' is on at the V&A, from December 10 2008 to March 29 2009.

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