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Nadezhda Lamanova was one of the most talented couturiers of the turn of the 20th century. In 1885, when she was barely 24 years old, she opened her own atelier in Moscow. The works produced by Lamanova's company rapidly gained recognition among her clientele and became famous among the Moscow and St Petersburg aristocracy and also in theatrical society and among the Russian intelligentsia. In 1902 Lamanova successfully participated, alongside the prominent Paris-based companies of Paul Poiret, Charles Redfern, the Callot sisters and others, in the First International Exhibition of Historical and Contemporary Costumes held in the Taurida Palace in St Petersburg. A very insignificant number of works by this extremely interesting designer have come down to us today. The State Hermitage possesses the richest collection of her outfits, comprising fourteen dresses whose origins are confirmed by a trademark in the form of the couturier's signature printed in gold on the white ribbon of the bodice.

The dresses in the Hermitage collection were created between the 1890s and 1920s, making it possible to study the creative evolution of the atelier at various periods over a considerable length of time. Over that span of years costume passed through several stages of development and underwent considerable changes. The works from the 1890s mark a new phase in the development of fashionable female costume - the transition from the bustle and the draped skirts of the 1870s and 1880s, that imposed a bizarre shape on the female figure, to dresses of a new type that was more functional.

As early as the mid-1890s, the young Empress Alexandra Fiodorovna became one of Lamanova's customers, proof of the recognition her talents had won her. The next stage in the couturier's creative evolution is connected with the first decade of the new century when the Art Nouveau reigned supreme in female clothing design. The shapes of these costumes are a vivid expression of the aesthetic ideals of the Art Nouveau with its tendency towards curving lines and flowing forms. In the 1900s Lamanova's company continued to work to commissions from the imperial family and became ever more widely known. The sign outside the atelier read: ''N. Lamanova, supplier to the Imperial Court''.

The costumes from the 1910s contain increasingly frequent echoes of Neo-Classicism that was being extensively employed in architecture and the applied arts. The S-shaped silhouette disappears and with it the corset that heavily constricted and deformed the female figure. In the 1910s Lamanova attained recognition not only in her homeland, but in Europe as well. The famous French couturier Paul Poiret, who in the early 20th century succeeded Charles Worth on the throne of the dictator of world fashion, made a tour of European capitals before the First World War demonstrating his designs. During his visit to Moscow in 1911 he made Lamanova's acquaintance and viewed her works. In his memoirs he expresses a high opinion of her talent. In 1917 Nadezhda Lamanova was 56 years old. By that time she had travelled the long road from novice dress-maker to internationally acclaimed couturier, supplier to the court and owner of an atelier with a brilliant clientele. Comfortably off, with a firm position in society, she had the chance to emigrate to France, as others did, but remained in her homeland and continued to work in her beloved profession.

 


Broadcloth visiting dress
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Chiffon ball gown

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White tulle ball gown

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Evening dress made of beige satin, white chiffon and black machine lace
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White satin and tulle evening dress

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Evening dress made of black machine lace with a fine plant pattern
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Green satin and chiffon dress

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Evening dress made of fine black silk crepe and satin

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