It was a milestone for Olga and Tatiana to be present, wearing matching formal Russian court dresses. These were made in the workshop of Olga Bulbenkova, who specialized in ceremonial clothes for the court, and were full-length, off-the-shoulder style in white satin with long, pointed, open sleeves, and a front panel of pink velvet and a detachable train decorated with garlands of artificial roses. Across their chests both girls wore their orders of St Catherine on scarlet sashes, and on their heads kokoshniki of pink velvet encrusted with pearls and decorated with bows. It must have been a moment of great pride for them, for they had not worn full-length formal dresses before and it signalled their final arrival in the adult world of the court. The two sisters were never more beautiful, as official photographs taken of them by the family’s favourite studio, Boissonnas & Eggler, testified. The reception itself was something new for both of them, ‘a rare chance of seeing Petersburg society, and from their attentive, animated faces it was clear that they were trying to take everything in and remember all the faces’.
The Romanov Sisters - Helen Rappaport