Russian Folk Costume

The exhibition focuses on the Russian traditional clothing, showing about 50 types of costumes worn in different regions of Russia in the 19th-20th centuries. Significant part of them was preserved since 1867, the time when the First Ethnographic Exhibition had been held in Moscow. The principles of selection of the objects and exhibition scale give a chance to demonstrate even to unprepared auditory the universal traditional cultural patterns in costumes.

The specifics of the project “The Russian Folk Costume” is the intention of its authors to show in proper way not only all the diversity and aesthetic value of traditional clothing, but also their professional approach to exhibition materials.  A visitor immediately penetrates into the problems of historical evolution of traditional costume. Moreover, the selected objects give an extensive idea of the local, ritual, age and gender peculiarities of the Russian folk costume.

            The main types of female costumes, formed in various historical epochs are demonstrated by respective materials from the museum’s collection. They include the most archaic costume with poneva - a wraparound skirt, typical of Southern and some Central Russian provinces, costume with sarafan, a full-length sleeveless dress initially characteristic for Northern and Central Russia, and for the Urals region and Siberia, and the costume with striped skirt, formed under the influence of Byelorussian and Polish traditions and widespread among well-to-do farmers of South Russia.  Every type of costume is represented by several variants, which enables to elucidate its common characteristics as well as its distinctive features, determined by differences in materials, cut, and addition of various supplementary details (breast clothing, ornaments, and accessories). Men’s costumes also give an opportunity to see both common features of clothing (its components and style) and its local particulars (in décor, for example).

Several costumes are selected for their extremely specific and remarkable features, which give a chance to associate them unmistakably with a certain region. These are for example the costumes from Belgorod Province with their inimitable often black embroidery on shirts and aprons, the clothing from the town of Semipalatinsk with original multicolored embroidery made in various techniques, which abundantly cover various elements of costumes, the dress of a Ural Cossack woman with a headdress of unique shape.

The age and gender differences in clothing are represented by the costumes of children, maidens, women, men and old women.  Among the ritual clothing one can see the garments which belong to one local tradition of Vologda Province and were worn on different stages of wedding ceremonies. These are a costume of betrothed girl, a wedding garment, and the dress put on by the bride on the second day after wedding.  

The exhibition certainly can’t embrace all the richness and diversity of the Russian folk clothing. However, it gives a full idea of the costumes typical of many regional traditions. The exhibited garments represent originality of Russian clothing within the limits of European cultural traditions.

The authors of the project also took in account the experience of small exhibition on folk costume, carried out in terms of program “Russian Evenings” in Milan (Italy) in September 28, 2008. The full version of exhibition was successfully represented in the exhibition hall of the Foundation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent in Paris during six months in 2009.

Space required - approximately 150 square meters

Number of objects - about 300