Fashion display at Hermitage storage facility paves the way for textiles study centre

Peter the Great’s tailored justaucorps, Catherine the Great's gown and more on display in St Petersburg

Open storage facilities will enable delicate garments to be regularly rotated Svetlana Ragina

Ceremonial gowns from the courts of the tsars, clergy vestments and elaborately embroidered peasant dress from across the Russian Empire have gone on show at Staraya Derevnya, the State Hermitage Museum’s state-of-the-art open storage facility and restoration centre. The fashion display, which opened in St Petersburg earlier this month, was organised by the museum’s Department of the History of Russian Culture.

The Hermitage has already staged fashion exhibitions at the Winter Palace and describes the new display as a “first and very important step” towards a dedicated study centre for costumes and textiles. The Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas is already lined up to design it.

The storage facilities at Staraya Derevnya allow the fashion collections to be regularly rotated, the Hermitage’s director, Mikhail Piotrovsky, tells The Art Newspaper. “Costumes cannot be displayed for long,” he says. “[Here] they can be shown for a month and stored away.” The venue maintains low lighting, temperature (20 degrees Celsius) and humidity (55%).

Current highlights include Peter the Great’s tailored justaucorps of silk broadcloth, linen, taffeta and satin, a military-inspired green silk gown made for Catherine the Great, and a white and silver court dress for the future Empress Alexandra Fedorovona, with an 11ft train. European fashion is well represented, with pieces by designers such as the haute couture pioneer Charles Worth and the late French designer Jeanne Paquin.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper, 297 January 2018