MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –
Together with the exhibits of the Fashion Museum, we travel half a century ago and find out (or remember) why the ladies were very cold then, and the men argued about ties.
One of the most interesting decades of the twentieth century not only opened the way to space for mankind, but also presented artificial fabrics. Surprisingly, but true: in the 1960s, clothes and shoes made of highly fashionable synthetic materials cost and were valued much higher than the usual natural things. Synthetics crumpled less, washed easily and looked unusual. And even in the 1960s, the whole world listened to rock music and copied the style of the musicians’ clothing – the echoes of this fashion reached the USSR.
Daria Serezhkina, Research Fellow at the Museum of Fashion Museum and Exhibition Center, tells more about how fashionable and indifferent to fashion citizens dressed at that time.
Outerwear: from synthetics to karakul
The 1960s was the time when synthetic materials came into fashion – including in warm outerwear. It was then that sheepskin coats and faux fur coats, similar to those worn today, first appeared on the streets of Moscow. At the time, they were predominantly straight or A-shaped. The collars of woolen winter coats were also turned off with artificial fur. The latter were different – both double-breasted and single-breasted, and with a turn-down and with a standing collar. Various fur coats, sheepskin coats and coats were united by details: large buttons and patch pockets – and length to the knee or below. The colors were mostly conservative: black, gray, brown.
Natural fur was also worn, such fur coats passed from generation to generation. The fur coat, which is kept in the collection of the Fashion Museum, was brought from Switzerland. Its owner may have been an actress or the wife of a diplomat.
Hats were also preferred from faux fur. They could have decorative elements made of leatherette or fabric. After the release in 1965 of the film Babette Goes to War with Brigitte Bardot, women of fashion began to do their hair in the style of the title character, which was called Babette: the hair was combed and laid in a large roller. In order not to spoil such a hairstyle, voluminous hats were needed. Large hats and berets made of dried wool and felt of different colors: pink, green, blue, came to the rescue. They were decorated with beads, straps, perforations. One of these hats is now kept in the Fashion Museum – it is decorated with leatherette flowers.
The main feature of men’s clothing of that time was simplicity; men did not pursue fashionable artificial fur. In winter, employees of the institutions wore straight coats with wide shoulders on the street – they were conveniently worn over the same wide-shouldered jackets that they wore to work. However, on the streets in winter one could meet men in a coat with a belt, and in sheepskin coats. Some wore military overcoats, inherited or left over from service. Earflaps or astrakhan hats were preferred as headdresses. High-ranking Muscovites continued to wear classic felt hats in winter.
Fashionable (and not so) things
In the 1960s, outerwear made in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia was considered very fashionable. Women of fashion literally hunted for the sheepskin coats of the Bulgarian factory “Rila”. It was sheepskin coats that were honored in the range of Rila’s products, the rest of the things were not of the best quality – the people quickly changed its name to the rude “Snout”. The collection includes a men’s beige jacket from this Bulgarian company, which rather resembles a home smoking robe. It is very thin and does not correspond to the fashion of the time at all. It is unlikely that its owner was delighted with it.
Sweaters saved from the cold – tight-fitting women wore, more voluminous men wore. Synthetic thread was added to the wool. Such jersey was nicknamed “wash-wear” – things made of it could be washed both by hand and in a washing machine in water of any temperature, without fear that they would shrink, deform or fade.
The fashion for turtlenecks and sweaters at one time even gave rise to a discussion: Soviet citizens argued on the pages of newspapers whether it was necessary for a man to wear a tie. The high neckline did not allow wearing this accessory, which was previously considered an important element of men’s wardrobe.
The most fashionable sweater pattern was the so-called Nordic, which came from the equipment of skiers. Sports in the 1960s were not as popular as in the 1920s with the then body cult or in the 1980s illuminated by the Olympics, but young people loved to go ice skating or skiing in winter. At that time, women could only wear pantsuits during sports, such as this brown women’s ski suit.
Conservatism with an eye to the West
In the 1960s in Europe, the hourglass silhouette invented by Christian Dior was replaced by the trapezoid silhouette, proposed by the designer Yves Saint Laurent. Although fashion magazines of the USSR then wrote that the French couturier was inspired by Russian sundresses, trapezoidal dresses at that time were worn only by wealthy women of fashion.
Skirts with wide straps, which were worn with turtlenecks, sweaters and blouses, could become an alternative to a dress in cold weather. Sleeveless dresses that were worn over shirts were also in vogue.
As today, in the 1960s, layering saved from the cold in winter. Therefore, suits consisting of a jacket and a skirt were popular. For example, such as this woolen suit from Hong Kong, which a diplomat could bring to his wife from a business trip. The generally accepted skirt length at the time, as in the 1950s, was still below the knee, and only the most daring and young women of fashion risked wearing something shorter.
Men wore dark suits in winter – gray, black, brown, less often dark blue and dark green. Only a modest striped or herringbone pattern could decorate the fabric of a suit. A T-shirt, a shirt and sometimes a vest were worn under the jacket. In the collection of the museum there is an example of a classic costume of that time made of gray bouclé fabric. It was created by fashion designer Alexander Igmand for the All-Union House of Models on Kuznetsky Most. Igmand was Leonid Brezhnev’s personal tailor for a long time.
In the 1960s, the world was swept by Beatlemania, even the songs of The Beatles penetrated into the USSR. Young people immediately began to imitate their idols, and the so-called Beatles – turtlenecks that were worn under a jacket instead of a shirt – came into fashion. Similar can be seen on the Liverpool Four, for example on the cover of Meet the Beatles! (the second album of the group).
Foreign stars were generally unofficial trendsetters. After the release of certain European and American films, sketches of evening dresses similar to the outfits of the main characters appeared on the pages of fashion magazines. Sewing patterns were also attached to the magazines, so that every craftswoman could create a cinematic image. The covers of the Berlins Modenblatt magazine, published in the German Democratic Republic, depict women in tight-fitting evening dresses with intricate cut and fur coats. In the collection of the Museum of Fashion there is a red knitted dress with a belt of a similar style.
Fashionable but cold
Warm knitted scarves or hats were not yet fashionable in the 1960s – only children wore them. The women of fashion picked up a scarf in the color of the felt hat and tied it beautifully at the neckline. Some were insulated with stoles, and those who were not interested in fashion could easily wrap a shawl over their coats.
Women wore gloves on the street even in summer, not to mention the cold season. In winter, they mostly wore leather or fashionable ones made of leatherette. Some especially frost-resistant ladies wore fabric gloves. The legs were insulated with golfs – cotton or woolen. Only the wives of diplomats could afford the most fashionable nylon tights. Women of fashion put on boots or ankle boots made of artificial leather (the products of factories in Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria were especially appreciated), and those who were not ready to sacrifice comfort for the sake of fashion wore boots with fur or even felt boots. Artists, however, saw a Soviet woman in winter only in shoes – such shoes were depicted in sketches in magazines and catalogs.
Handbags in those days did not change much depending on the season. Women of fashion preferred frame bags made of artificial leather, like the black one from the museum’s collection. A similar handbag can be seen on the heroine of the film “Nine Days in One Year” Lelia in the scene when she walks along the airport building. Pay attention: as a real fashionista, she wore shoes for a winter coat.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.