** Soviet economy: fashion Dior in Moscow 1959

Soviet Fashion Industry: Christian Dior in Moscow (1959)

Figure 1.--Western fashions in general would have shovkedthe Soviet people, but Christian Dior was in a a class of its own. Here we see the Soviet reaction to the Dior models, we think inside the GUM Departmdnt Store. Notice not only the clothes, but the lack of cosmetics. Put your cursor or the omage for a scene outsdide of GUM.

There was somewhat of a relaxing of tensions between the Soviets and the West -- the short-lived Khrushchev Thaw (1959). Vice President Richard Noxon and Soviet Premier Nikita Kurushchev had their famous Kitchen Debate in Moscow. And virtually undetected in the West, Soviet authorities removed the decaded-lomg ban on fashion shows. As a result willowy French models paid a less publicised visit to Moscow. They were sent by Frenh fashion icon Christian Dior. And as a result of tghat visit, wse have wonder images not only of Dior fashions, but how Soviet women dressed. And remember in viewiung these images that the women and in Moswoe and Leningrad were the best-dressed women in the entire Soviet Union, looking down on women in the provincial ccities let alone rural areas. Now we do mot have the details about who invited Dior's models, but they obvioiuky did not just show up. New Soviet clithing designers and retailers were aware of Western styles. There were Soviet fashion magazines and Soiviet designers basically copied Western fashions. Some bright buln in the Soviet Government hit on the idea of brokered person-to-person exchanges with Western design houses. The idea was to 'revitalize' the Soviet fashion industry. And of course French couturiers like Dior were especially coveted guests. So apparently the famous GUM Departmrent Store in Moscow invited the Christian Dior to stage a fashion show. GUM facing Red Square was the Soviet Union's premore deoprtment store. We simply do not know. Apparently they participated in a fashion show in Gum. As afara s we kjnow, it was not announced in the press. So Mosow shoppers who happened to be in GUM encountered an anazingg scene: three slender French models, outfitted vibrantly colored suits, mixing with shoppers, and posing for eager photographers. Yves Saint Laurent, the new head of Dior and somewhat a dictator in his won right, organized a 5-day fashion show featuring 12 models, at the House of Culture’s 'Wings of the Soviets' Not only did the Soviet authirities end the ban on fashion shows, but the KGB was ordered to stop arresting people who they judged to be dressed inappropriately. This was part of Khrushchev's DeStainization Effort launched a few years eralier. We doubt if Khrushchev was personally involved in this, given the way that he and his wife dressed, bit it was a natural evolution if a De-Stalinized Soviet society. As a part of the Dior show, the organizers npt only allowed customers to look at the models and their strkiung outfits, but arranged a walk through the center of Moscow. They visited Red Square, local markets, adjacent streets, and went to the center of the Soviet fashion ondustry. Only 3 out of 12 models took part in the walk. We are not sure why justthree. Howard Sochurek (the Dior photographer) tagged along to record a fascinating collosion io two cultures. The Moscow reporting on the event was critical. "After the Dior fashion show, ‘Pravda Daily’ wrote that some of the styles were too open and short; therefore, they would not look good on women who are stout and short in stature." Notice the assumption that most y of Soviet women were stout and short. A Soviet magazine criticized the narrow skirts and spike-heeled shoes. "Bourgeois fashion makers come up with such styles that a woman has difficulty walking and must wrap herself around her man." A fashion historian and researcher cpmmenys on the Soviet regime's strong aversion to European fashion, suggesting that the shifting fashion trends unwittingly personified the times; it posed a threat to the system, which valued stability above all. [Bartlett]


Bartlett, Djurdja. London College of Fashion

Smetanina, Svetlana. Moscow News Weekly


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Created: 1:24 PM 9/11/2021
Last updated: 1:24 PM 9/11/2021