Decadent, politically tumultuous and sexually charged – prepare to enter the world of 18th century Russia in new images from Sky and HBO original drama Catherine the Great.
Released ahead of this weekend’s BFI Radio Times Festival, where Helen Mirren will collect the TV Icon Award and be inducted into the Radio Times Hall of Fame, the images provide a glimpse into Mirren’s next major TV role as Catherine the Great which is set to air on Sky Atlantic this autumn.
The first look gallery showcases four of the opulent costumes worn by Helen Mirren as the Russian Empress, all of which are set to go on display for a limited period across the weekend of the festival.
These include Catherine’s golden ceremonial gown stitched with elaborate beading and pearls, the blue ball gown worn on the anniversary of the monarch’s coronation, a suit specially made for the Empress to enjoy at the transvestite ball- one of her favourite events- and the green military riding habit she wore whilst leading the charge on Russia’s expansion alongside longstanding lover General Grigory Potemkin.
Located in the BFI Southbank foyer, the Catherine the Great costume display will give visitors the chance to see in intricate detail the four costumes designed exclusively for Helen Mirren by costume designer Maja Meschede.
The Catherine the Great costume display will be available to view for a limited period at the BFI Southbank from Friday 12th to Sunday 14th April.
A link to the gallery of brand-new images can be found here
For further information:
Notes to Editors
About Catherine the Great
Written by Nigel Williams (Elizabeth I) and directed by BAFTA and Emmy® Award-winning Philip Martin (The Crown), Catherine the Great is produced by Origin Pictures and New Pictures.
The series will air exclusively on Sky Atlantic in 2019 and follows a host of BAFTA nominated dramas including Save Me, Patrick Melrose and Britannia which have recently launched in Sky’s most successful year to date for original programming.
Sky Vision will handle international sales and distribution.
About the costumes
Green Military Riding Habit
Catherine the Great was a great patron of the Guards' regiments, who had done much to bring her to power. The Empress would have a riding habit made in accordance with the uniform of each regiment and wore the garment to appear before officers on regimental holidays.
Costumer designer, Maja Meschede elaborates: “This riding habit honours the Preobrazhensky Lifeguard Regiment, one of the oldest and most elite guard regiments of the Imperial Russian Army. It combines features of a uniform with Russian national costume and elements of the French fashion that was widespread in Russia at the time.”
Golden ‘Nakaz’ Dress
Catherine wears this golden gown for her Nakaz - an important ceremonial speech the Empress gives to her followers.
Costumer designer, Maja Meschede says of the costume: “I wanted Catherine to look powerful and untouchable, the embodiment of Russianness. It took a month to complete the elaborate bead and pearl embroideries, which reflect Russian national costume. As a personal touch for Helen, we stitched the letters HM in pearls on the back of the cloak by the neck.”
Transvestite Ball costume
History tells us that Transvestite balls were a favourite pastime of Catherine the Great’s court, a tradition she continued from the Empress Elizabeth.
Maja adds “Catherine the Great often used strategies of gender concealment or disguise. With the transvestite ball, we can see how she seemed to enjoy making a public display of a mixed gender identity.”
Blue Ball Gown
This dress takes inspiration from a gown that Catherine the Great wore in August 1772 on the anniversary of her coronation, which defined the style of ceremonial dress for the Russian Imperial Court until the end of its existence.
Maja Meschede says, “This blue dress fuses the style of a Russian peasant dress with the fashionable French silhouette and features embroideries made from gold and silver threads, pearl beading and rushed sleeves.”
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