Okay, you either think the title is (1) uproarious like me, (2) cheese-tastic, or (3) you don’t know which cartoon I reference. Either way, hop in your DeLoreans, gun it up to 88 mph and let’s head to St. Petersburg 1903 to check out more kokoshniks! (Don’t forget your plutonium…the Mr. Fusion is on the fritz.)
What Would Halloween Be Without a Masquerade Ball?
As the title suggests, this ball did not take place on Halloween, rather in the dead of winter. Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra hosted a magnificent costume ball at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. (Pictured above; ironically not in the wintertime.) Spanning nearly three days, from February 11 and 13, this fête was considered the last display of the lavish Romanov rule. The fancy dress theme? The regalia fashionable in 17th Century Russia. The Tsar and Tsarina dressed as a tsar and tsarina. (Whoa, staying in character must have been tough!) Nicholas II went as Alexei I, the second tsar of the Romanov dynasty, whose reign lasted from July 1645 to January 1676. Tsarina Alix complimented her husband as Maria Miloslavskaya, Tsar Alexi’s first wife of many.
Not that Plastic Mask Costume Your Mom Bought You at Target
Nicholas and Alix not only threw an extravagant ball, they provided their guest with authentic garb. “Authentic” not meaning historically accurate reproductions. Their guests wore priceless, original museum pieces brought over from the Kremlin and other museums, specially for the event. Yes, I’d like to borrow the Angoulême Emerald Tiara…I have this thing to go to…thanks Louvre.Ha! If only… Check out ‘s richly bejewelled get-up!
Since I mentioned champagne, an interesting side note from your Blog Hostess the Champagne Whore: Cristal was invented exclusively for Tsar Alexander II in 1876. Given the political unrest at the time, he insisted his bubbly bottled in clear glass should there be a bomb inside. Louis Roederer commissioned a Flemish glass-maker to create such a bottle, with a flat bottom instead of the traditional punt. (The “punt” is that conical indent at the bottom of all wine bottles and–yes–they do vary from bottle to bottle.)
While Alexander II never received his nefarious champagne cocktail, Nicholas II was shaking his own like a paint-mixer. Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovitch recalls the gala event as “the last spectacular ball in the history of the empire…[but] a new and hostile Russia glared through the large windows of the palace…while we danced, the workers were striking and the clouds in the Far East were hanging dangerously low.”