V. O. Vengerska Fashion Magazines as a Reflection of Social stratification of Soviet Society

DOI: 10.20535/2307-5244.48.2019.176393

Zhytomyr Ivan Franko State University

Despite its «obscurity», it is difficult to deny the existence of fashion in the
Soviet Union. However, it had its own peculiarities. They reflected the differences
in the status of representatives of various social groups inside a formally
“classless” Soviet society.
The purpose of the article is to analyze social stratification in the Soviet Union
through the lens of fashion magazines and journals fr women. The article
examines the evolution of Soviet fashion magazines and target groups of their
«consumption». The main methods of research are the orientation to the dichotomy
of norm/anomaly proposed by N. Lebina (in the context of matching clothing
to political and socioeconomic challenges). The data reflects peculiarities
of different periods in the history of Soviet authoritarianism and totalitarianism.
The analysis of the content and artistic/graphic/photo visual images in magazines
was used among other research methods.
Fashion magazines were the marker of the level of economic development.
They confirmed the presence of the fashion industry in the Soviet Union. In a
country of «equal opportunity», the fashion became a category with the access
limited to the small circle of «the chosen». Those were: Party and Soviet officials
with wives, heads of enterprises and institutions, teachers of higher educational
establishments, artists of different directions and types, models and employees in
fashion studios. Specialized fashion magazines issued small print runs that turned
them into the category of deficits. For public use, there were socially and ideologically
sustained “Radianska Zhinka”, «Rabotnitsa» and «Krestyanka». The
mass copies of these editions fell in a line with their purpose. Women who did
not belong to the Soviet elite received brief information about fashion from their
pages. The connection between the concepts of “peasant” and “fashion” was
itself perceived as a certain anomaly.
The problem of fashion in the Soviet village is almost not researched. It was
researched only in the sense of preserving traditional (ethnic) elements in clothing.
The proclamation of slogans about a «new supranational community» was
accompanied by the consolidation of Russian as the dominant alternative identity.
This was also reflected in the pages of fashion magazines.
Representatives of various social strata were endowed with radically different
opportunities. The scope of the fashion demonstrated non-compliance with one
of the basic principles of the Soviet model — the declared equality.

Keywords: fashion, fashion magazines, social stratification, standards, deviations,
Soviet, equality.


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