Sky Releases New Images Of Helen Mirren As ‘Catherine the Great’, Premiering This Autumn
To celebrate the fact that Helen Mirren will be inducted into the Radio Times Hall of Fame at this weekend’s BFI Radio Times Festival, Sky has released a set of new images of the award-winning star in her upcoming HBO/Sky Atlantic drama ‘Catherine the Great‘, which premieres in Autumn 2019.
Written by Nigel Williams (‘Elizabeth I’) and directed by BAFTA and Emmy Award-winning Philip Martin (‘The Crown’), the 4-part drama delves into the politically tumultuous and sexually charged court of the most powerful female monarch in history. Catherine wielded supreme power throughout Russia for nearly half of the 18th century – strong-minded, independent, brilliantly intelligent and sexually liberated, she was the definition of the modern woman.
The mini-series will follow Catherine towards the end of her reign and her passionate affair with Grigory Potemkin. Amid scandal, intrigue and immense conflict, this is a story of obsessive love. Unable to publicly marry and famously promiscuous, they develop a unique and devoted relationship, overcoming their adversaries and together shaping Russia as we know it today.
The four photos depict Mirren in four different costumes which will be on display for a limited period at the BFI Southbank from Friday, 12th to Sunday, 14th April 2019.
Green Military Riding Habit (pictured above) “honours the Preobrazhensky Lifeguard Regiment, one of the oldest and most elite guard regiments of the Imperial Russian Army,” according to Costumer designer, Maja Meschede. “It combines features of a uniform with Russian national costume and elements of the French fashion that was widespread in Russia at the time.”
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.
Catherine wears this golden gown for her Nakaz – an important ceremonial speech the Empress gives to her followers. “I wanted Catherine to look powerful and untouchable, the embodiment of Russianness,” adds Meschede. “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.”
Interestingly, Transvestite balls were apparently a favourite pastime of Catherine the Great’s court, a tradition she continued from the Empress Elizabeth. “Catherine the Great often used strategies of gender concealment or disguise,” explains Meschede. “With the transvestite ball, we can see how she seemed to enjoy making a public display of a mixed gender identity.”
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. “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,” commented Meschede.
‘Catherine the Great‘ will premiere on Sky Atlantic in the UK and HBO in the UK, Autumn (Fall) 2019. And if you happen to be in London this weekend, head to the BFI Southbank from Friday, 12th to Sunday, 14th April 2019 to get a look at the outfits in person.