On Saturday, December 9, Nadia Albertini and Sophie Kurkdjian presented “The Russian Embroideries of Mademoiselle Chanel” as a part of the Russian History Museum’s Second Saturday online lecture series.

What’s the connection between Coco Chanel and the Romanov family?

In the 1920s, Gabrielle Chanel collaborated with Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia. Two women with not much in common found themselves united around a common passion, embroidery. Cousin, niece, and granddaughter of the last three Russian tsars, Maria Pavlovna was born in Saint Petersburg in 1890. Brought up in the opulence of the Romanov court, she fled her country after the 1917 revolution and, with her brother Dmitri, found refuge in Paris in 1921. Her meeting with the already famous couturier Chanel gave rise to the Kitmir embroidery studio and its marvelous creations, inspired by the Slavic world, Persia, China, and India.

In their lecture, Albertini and Kurkdjian talked about Coco Chanel, Maria Pavlovna, and the famous Kitmir atelier. They also showed the embroidery samples preserved since the workshop closed in 1929.

The book Kitmir, the Russian Embroideries of Mademoiselle Chanel by Nadia Albertini and Sophie Kurkdjian is available for online purchase. You can order the book from the publisher’s website or from Galignani, a famous bookstore in Paris. To request the English version of the book, please email Galignani: voscommandes@galignani.com.

About the Speakers

Nadia Albertini is an embroidery expert: designer, historian, and lecturer. She combines her design and historical research skills to address clients’ needs in Haute Couture, luxury ready-to-wear, and interiors decoration, imagining innovative embroideries, collaborating with the world’s best craftsmen.

Designer for Haute Couture and luxury ready-to-wear for 16 years, she has worked with fashion houses such as Chloé, Dries van Noten, Balmain, Chanel, Jason Wu, Marc Jacobs, Schiaparelli and The Row. She shares her passion and knowledge through workshops, lectures, tours, and teaching at institutions such as Polimoda Firenze, American University of Paris, Instituto Marangoni Paris. She is passionate about history, analysis and transmission of skills, fabric embellishment and embroidery design processes in the fashion industry, trend forecasting and inspiration research, as well as development of sampling, experimentation with color, texture, form, and composition.

Sophie Kurkdjian holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Paris I and is an Assistant Professor at the American University of Paris. Her research focuses on the social, economic, and cultural history of clothing in the contemporary period.
She is also a visiting researcher at the Institut d’Histoire du Temps Présent (CNRS), where she has directed the research seminar Cultures et Histoires de Mode since 2012. She is also an exhibition curator.

In 2017, she presented “Mode & Femmes, 14-18” at the Bibliothèque Forney in Paris, which then traveled to New York at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery under the title “French Fashion, Women and the First War.”

In September 2018, Sophie Kurkdjian launched the network of fashion researchers, Culture(s) de Mode, in collaboration with the French Ministry of Culture. With more than 350 members, this network brings together various players in the field of fashion (researchers, designers, museum curators, archivists, journalists, and students) and aims to develop research on fashion in France around three poles: research, heritage, and sustainable development.