Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Théâtre de la Mode: Mother Russia

Traveling this summer, it seemed everywhere we went - Egypt, the States, the Netherlands - we ran into Russian tourists - glam, rich Russian tourists. They are a fixture of life in the UAE, where the malls of Dubai are overrun with Natashas and Svetlanas raiding the Versace while their bored boyfriends flick through racks of Michael Kors and Zegna.

Ah, for the days when we lucky residents of the Free World could look down our noses at our tragic Eastern Bloc brethren! Today, the dollar and the ruble have seemingly switched places, and now it's the average American we picture in ill-fitting track suits and too-comfortable shoes.

'Twas not always thus. The finest Soviet propaganda couldn't make their frocks alluring...

...not least because even a couture fitting apparently involved Olga coming in from the fields without bothering to change out of her best plowing boots:

Right up to the days just before History Ended and everything changed, The Anna Wintourovas of Moscow kept up their side of the deal, cranking out "fashion" magazines that made the Penney's catalogue look like a sneak peek at next season's Chanels:

This created, in the process, a whole class of disenfranchised proto-Yuppies who were clearly not going to be mollified forever by diesel-powered blowdryers and, from the look of it, sweaters knitted in the dark by the Very, Very Clumsy:

Soon the tide stirred up by Raisa Gorbachev would sweep all this away, making way for Consumer Culture to sweep east like Napoleon's army, albeit with greater success and better tailoring. In some ways it seems a shame (but nobody misses those sweaters).

(Images courtesy of the treasure trove that is English Russia)


  1. Where can I get one of those sweaters? Haven’t you seen the latest Penny’s catalogue? The Russian communist sweater look is all the rage here in North America.

  2. I love that dude in the grey sweater.
    My 8th grade coach had the same hair cut.

  3. Jason -- So did mine. And it looked lovely on her.

  4. ah, Muscato, your blog is always a fun & entertaining read, but this post... is hilarious! LOL!!!