Singer Advertisements in Russia

Photograph by Karl Bulla

An anonymous woman posed for this photograph by the famous photographer Karl Bulla from before 1914. She is wearing the same pre-modern national costume as the Russian "З-Girl" and is sitting in exactly the same pose at the Singer sewing machine, embroidering a fancy white towel. The image seems rather ludicrous, however, because it is a photo of an actual woman in contrast to the drawn figure whose colorful kitschiness was typical of Russian advertisements of the time.

Upper class women wore such costumes in the time before Peter the Great that were relegated to high society masquerade balls afterwards. Perhaps the best-known example of such a spectacle was the masquerade ball of 1903 at the Winter Palace for which all guests came dressed in seventeenth century costumes, with Nicholas II dressed as Grand Prince Alexei M. Romanov, and the empress, as the wife of Alexei. The event was held in conjunction with the second centennial celebration of the founding of St. Petersburg and was the last imperial ball. The photograph on the right is of Princess Zinaida Yusupov, mother of notorious Felix who was associated with murder of Rasputin.