Stalinist Representational Dress

Stalin's rise to power and the introduction of the First Five Year Plan in 1929 brought the NEP to its end. Dur

19th Century Fashion For Women

Children walking to school. Political changes in Eastern Europe heavily influenced fashion, ranging from the austere, functional, classless communist dress during the post-World War II years to a more open attitude toward Western fashion influence in the 1950s. © Bettmann/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.

Children walking to school. Political changes in Eastern Europe heavily influenced fashion, ranging from the austere, functional, classless communist dress during the post-World War II years to a more open attitude toward Western fashion influence in the 1950s. © Bettmann/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.

ing the mid-1930s, the Stalinist regime encouraged social distinctions by creating huge disparities in wages and created a new socialist middle class, which received material goods, from housing to fashion, in exchange for supporting the system. For the first time, communism recognized the relation of fashion to femininity and adornment, allowing its incorporation into the new mass culture that was emerging.

In the mid-1930s, a huge official campaign of civilizing the new socialist middle class dictated, among other things, both good manners and appropriate dress. Stalinism abolished all previous socialist dress styles: the avant-garde, the westernized NEP, and the thematic textiles, which in the late 1920s featured the urgent issues of the day—construction, electrification, and agriculture. Stalinism needed a different, conservative fashion style.

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