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Look, I just really want to dress like a fancy extra in ‘The Great’

WORDS BY JASMINE WALLIS

Royally inspired.

Described as “an occasionally true story”, Stan’s latest period drama The Great is a fun piece of escapist television. Starring Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult, The Great takes us back to 18th century Russia when a young Catherine the Great first married Emperor Peter III. The show charts her rise as a leader as she transforms from an idealistic young girl into an ambitious, head-strong woman. 

Written by Australian Tony McNamara, who also wrote the critically-acclaimed period drama The Favourite, the show combines historical recount with flourishes of witty, comedic fiction.

From Peter III dining with the heads of Swedish soldiers on the tables to a chained bear being a regular presence at royal parties, The Great is a wild glimpse into the extravagance of the Russian royal court of the 1700s. 

The show has been compared to Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film Marie Antoinette for its blend of period drama and contemporary style, and while it’s not recommended if you want a perfectly historical recount of the Empress’s rule, it is a welcome ten-episode respite from real life.

The costumes were designed by Emma Fryer who got her first big break working on another noteworthy period drama, Shakespeare In Love. To create the look of the characters in The Great, Emma studied Imperialist Russian history including the original paintings from the court.

To give the costumes a more modern feel, she used fabrics that weren’t used at the time and took inspiration from contemporary designers including Versace, Dior and Alexander McQueen. 

The result is a blend of bold, royal colours, daring accessories and striking silhouettes. I’ve selected a few of the most memorable style moments so you too can go forth and take inspiration from the wild world of Russia’s longest-serving empress.

Exceptionally loud dresses

When we first see Catherine, she is dolled up in a dainty yellow dress. But as time progresses and Catherine grows as a woman and character, the pastels and cream colours turn into bold statements of leadership and femininity and one of the most memorable looks is this hot pink dress.

Much like Villanelle’s iconic pink tulle dress in Killing Eve, this dress is a real show-stopper and a powerful statement of her position in the court. If you’re in the market for a period-inspired party dress, sustainable Sydney-label Skillings has a modern take on Catherine’s eye-catching look.

Get it here.

Knee-high boots, obviously

Worn by Peter III, a boyish emperor who is desperately trying to be as ‘great’ as his father, knee-high boots are a constant for the chaotic character, worn while he slams down vodka and borscht and stomps around the Russian palace wreaking absolute havoc.

Three hundred years on, and leather boots are still an essential winter purchase. These Ganni ones are excellent, and they also look sturdy, something I appreciate because it means you could kick Peter the III while wearing them without hurting your feet – once you watch the show, you’ll understand what I mean. Vodka not included with purchase, obviously.

Get them here.

Pearls of wisdom 

Look, I don’t know much about 18th-century Russian gender politics but despite being a hyper-masculine and entirely ruthless Emperor – or at least trying to be – Peter III isn’t afraid of an androgynous, Harry Styles-inspired look. Forever a mummy’s boy, he wears his mother’s pearls in practically every scene, and I’m kind of digging it.

Much like our cultural obsession with Connell’s chain in Normal People, hopefully, The Great will rebrand pearls for men the world over – it’s surely only a matter of time before we’re blessed with a @peterspearls Instagram account. Either way, this Gucci necklace has you covered. 

Get it here.

All velvet everything 

Played by Sebastian de Souza (alumni of Normal People and Skins), Leo Voronsky is hired by Peter III as a lover for Catherine the Great when it’s obvious that she isn’t happy within the court. He is also, incidentally, the boyfriend of everyone’s dreams.

While the romantic, wine-drinking poet is usually either undressed or laying around wearing an unbuttoned billowy shirt, this emerald green look he sports makes me want to dress head to toe in velvet. This Batsheva velvet dress should do the trick.

Get it here.

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