The idea of fashion under socialism conjures up images of babushka headscarves and black market blue jeans. And yet, as Djurdja Bartlett shows in this groundbreaking book, the socialist East had an intimate relationship with fashion. Official antagonism—which cast fashion as frivolous and anti-revolutionary—eventually gave way to grudging acceptance and creeping consumerism. Bartlett outlines three phases in socialist fashion, and illustrates them with abundant images from magazines of the period: postrevolutionary utopian dress, official state-sanctioned socialist fashion, and samizdat-style everyday fashion. Utopian dress, ranging from the geometric abstraction of the constructivists under Bolshevism in the Soviet Union to the no-frills desexualized uniform of a factory worker in Czechoslovakia, reflected the revolutionary urge for a clean break with the past. The highly centralized socialist fashion system, part of Stalinist industrialization, offered official prototypes of high fashion that were never available in stores—mythical images of smart and luxurious dresses that symbolized the economic progress that socialist regimes dreamed of. Everyday fashion, starting in the 1950s, was an unofficial, do-it-yourself enterprise: Western fashions obtained through semiclandestine channels or sewn at home. The state tolerated the demand for Western fashion, promising the burgeoning middle class consumer goods in exchange for political loyalty. Bartlett traces the progress of socialist fashion in the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany, Poland, and Yugoslavia, drawing on state-sponsored socialist women’s magazines, etiquette books, socialist manuals on dress, private archives, and her own interviews with designers, fashion editors, and other key figures. Fashion, she suggests, with all its ephemerality and dynamism, was in perpetual conflict with the socialist regimes’ fear of change and need for control. It was, to echo the famous first sentence from the Communist Manifesto, the spectre that haunted socialism until the end.
About the Author
Djurdja Bartlett is a Research Fellow at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London.
Table of Contents
- Djurdja Bartlett
- © 2010
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
- The production of color illustrations in this book was assisted by generous grants from the Research Office of the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London, and the Croatian magazine
- Gloria , Europa Press Holding.
- MIT Press books may be purchased at special quantity discounts for business or sales promotional use. For information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Special Sales Department, The MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, MA 02142.
- This book was set in Archer by Graphic Composition, Inc. Printed and bound in Spain.
- Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
- Bartlett, Djurdja, 1949–
- FashionEast : the spectre that haunted socialism / Djurdja Bartlett.
- p. cm.
- Includes bibliographical references and index.
- ISBN 978-0-262-02650-5 (hardcover : alk. paper)
- 1. Fashion—Political aspects—Soviet Union. 2. Fashion—Political aspects—Europe, Eastern. 3. Fashion design—Political aspects—Soviet Union. 4. Fashion design—Political aspects—Europe, Eastern. 5. Socialism and culture—Soviet Union. 6. Socialism and culture—Europe, Eastern. 7. Soviet Union—Social life and customs. 8. Europe, Eastern—Social life and customs. I. Title. II. Title: Spectre that haunted socialism.
- TT504.6.S65B37 2010
- 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
- For Ana and Danko
- Preface ix
- Introduction 1
- CHAPTER 1 Art versus Technology
- Early Soviet Dilemmas on Dress 13
- CHAPTER 2 Between Science and Myth
- The Birth of Socialist Fashion 63
- CHAPTER 3 East Europe
- From Utopia to Myth 99
- CHAPTER 4 The Cold War and the Fashion War 137
- CHAPTER 5 From Red to Beige
- A Set of Rules 181
- CHAPTER 6 The Decline of Socialist Fashion 213
- CHAPTER 7 Fashion Rising 243
- Notes 273
- References 303
- Index 319
—Elizabeth Wilson, author of Adorned in Dreams
—Valerie Steele, Director and Chief Curator, The Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology)
—John E. Bowlt, University of Southern California, author of Moscow & St. Petersburg 1900-1920