The State Historical Museum (Moscow) is currently presenting a large-scale exhibition dedicated to the history of urban costume in Russia.
The abolition of serfdom in 1861 gave a powerful impetus to the development of cities, which in turn contributed to a change in urban fashion, which now belonged not only to representatives of the upper strata of society, but also to new townspeople, including peasants and merchants.
The style on the streets of Russian cities is a mixture of Western trends and Asian brightness, discreet chic and colorful handicrafts, practicality and brilliance.
The exhibition recreates the characteristic images of fashionable townswomen from different eras: magnificent outfits of the era of corsets and crinolines, spectacular dresses of fashionistas of the early 20th century, post-revolutionary fashion outfits, nomenclature brilliance of the 1930-1950s.
Despite the fact that most of the items are associated with Moscow, the exposition does not have a clear link to a particular city - the images of the heroines can be presented in any large city in Russia. The exhibition is an excursion into the history of Russian fashion: from Nadezhda Lamanova to the works of contemporary designers (Igor Chapurin, Alena Akhmadullina, Gate 31, Monochrom, 12 Storeez, etc.). Pink dress, Russia, second half of the 1850s. Pink dress with lace, I.S. Leonidova, USSR, Moscow, 1967-1968.
The exhibition is created not chronologically, but thematically: railway station, business street, beauty salon, shop window, theater, park. In each zone, there are costumes, accessories, entourage. Shop window. The most fashionable things are bought and ordered in the most fashionable places with the most fashionable shop windows. The shop window shows stylish novelties, which are chosen by the city dwellers, shaping the style of the streets. Shop windows have influenced the spread of fashion in the city long before the Internet and social media. The main fashionable street with beautiful shop windows of Moscow in the 19th century was, of course, Kuznetsky Most with its endless French shops. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, large shops and arcades began to play an increasingly important role in the fashion trade. In 1893, on the site of dilapidated, dirty and disorderly shopping galleries near Red Square, a new bright building of the Upper Trading Rows was opened (which we know as GUM). In 1906, the Firsanovsky passage (now Petrovsky) began to operate on Petrovka, and in 1908 a new large building appeared near the famous Muir and Maryliz department store on Theater Square.
After the revolution, the fashion trade was in decline. In the Petrovsky passage, they stopped selling fabrics and clothes, the luxurious Muir and Maryliz became the Soviet Mostorg, and later received the sign of TsUM - the Central Department Store. The upper trading rows were called GUM - the Main Department Store, but there was almost no trade there. Until 1953, various institutions, canteens and even communal apartments were located in GUM. After 1953, much has changed in the country, including in trade, which now needed a brilliant fashion shop window. GUM became such an ideal shop window of Soviet trade. It was renovated in record time and turned into a socialist consumer paradise. Every morning in GUM had a huge queue at the entrance, because there you could buy goods that are not available anywhere else. During the day, up to two hundred thousand people passed through the shopping galleries of GUM, they came here from all over the Union. The most secret and coveted place in GUM was the "200th section" - a department closed to ordinary buyers, where imported and scarce goods were sold.
Elegant dress, USSR, Moscow, 1957-1962. Belonged to Lyudmila Alekseevna Gvishiani-Kosygina - historian, diplomat, daughter of the Soviet statesman A.N. Kosygin. Wedding dress, Russia, 1870s. The wedding dress was made during family mourning (most likely for the bride's father), so instead of white silk fabric, silver-gray was chosen.
Boots with beaded embroidery, Paris?, 1880s. Shoes, USSR, 1935. Victorian boots, late 19th century.
Victorian boots with front lacing or buttons were worn with any outfit and at any time of the day. There were a lot of buttons, sometimes more than 15 on one shoe, and they were so small that a special hook had to be used to fasten them. Such shoes appeared in the late 1850s and early 1860s in England during the reign of Queen Victoria. The fashion for high boots is associated with the fashion for the crinoline, thanks to which the skirt on the frame now and then opened the legs to glances when a woman sat down, climbed the stairs or got out of the carriage.
Dress by N.P. Lamanova, Moscow, 1902-1905.
Nadezhda Lamanova is the most significant name in Russian fashion in the first half of the 20th century. She was a couturier for titled clients before the revolution, and after it, she practically became the ancestor of the new Soviet fashion. She was friends with Paul Poiret, she was captured in Tsvetaeva's poetry, and Serov's canvas, Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko appreciated her talent, her innovative vision impressed her Parisian rival colleagues.
Theatre. In this section, there are outfits not only for going to the theater, but also about evening and special events and social life, that big cities are always rich in.
In the second half of the 19th century, the main Russian stages were the imperial theaters: in St. Petersburg - the Mariinsky, Aleksandrovsky, Bolshoy Kamenny (in 1886 it was rebuilt into the Conservatory), Mikhailovsky, Maly (now it is the Bolshoi Theater), in Moscow - Bolshoy and Maly.
Going to the theater in the 19th century was very different from how people go to the theater today. Entire lodges or individual lodge seats could be purchased for the entire season. People often came to the theater not for the whole performance, and sometimes for one action, they could even drop by for a single aria. The boxes in the imperial theaters of St. Petersburg had shone with massive jewels, but the scale of the jewels was sometimes determined not by a desire to demonstrate wealth, but by a necessary measure. The evening theatrical dress code for the ladies in the boxes assumed a deep neckline, which not everyone was ready to demonstrate, so the ladies were curtained with diamonds and pearls.
After the revolution, the theatrical dress code fell completely, but now the audience continued to dress up, going to the performance. Even in the modest wardrobes, women had a beautiful dress to go to the theater.
In the 21st century, the theater has again become one of the main spaces for entertainment; a secular city dweller of the late 2010s unexpectedly became an avid theater goer.
Blue dress of a diplomat's wife, Western Europe, 1940s. Belonged to V.N. Yagunkova, wife of diplomat and historian N.D. Kuznetsov.
Gray-silver pumps, fashion house Sidonie Larizzi, circa 1998. Made by order of Valentin Yudashkin for one of the dresses from the Anna Karenina haute couture collection, shown at Paris Haute Couture Week in 1998. Cape and trousers, House of Leo brand, designer Leonid Alekseev, St. Petersburg, 2022.
Evening dress, Tegin brand, designer Svetlana Tegin, Russia, 2019. Pearl necklace, Western Europe, early 20th century.
Tobacco-colored dress, Russia, 1908-1910. Chocolate-colored velvet dress, Akhmadullina brand, designer Alena Akhmadullina, Moscow, 2018.
Blue a la grecque dress, Moscow, 1908-1910. Suit for going to the theater in the open air, Russia, 1890s.
Alena Akhmadullina released a special collection dedicated to the film "The Nutcracker and the 4 Kingdoms". The dress is inspired by one of the kingdoms, with images of an abandoned circus. The golden tassels are reminiscent of the thick cords of the curtains.
Dress "Firebird", brand A la russe, designer Anastasia Romantsova, Moscow, collection autumn/winter 2011-2012.
Givenchy couture dress with figaro jacket, Paris. A dress made of faux brocade and a jacket with oriental elements was presented to the State Historical Museum by designer Hubert de Givenchy during his visit to Moscow in November 1985. It was created in the 1960s when the designer began experimenting with artificial materials.
Park. The "Park" space presents 20 bright, ambiguous outfits from the 1950s to the present day, in which young girls were not afraid and are not afraid to stand out on the street. The park in this case is a metaphor for freedom in a big city, a space for self-realization and self-expression. On the dance floors in the parks of the thaw era, despite censorship and guardians of morality, "unprincipled" music, "vulgar" dances (boogie-woogie, twist and rock and roll, for example), and colorful outfits were spread. The thirst for self-expression was stronger than the fear of punishment, which could turn out to be very significant: for someone it could easily get off with cut off hair and torn clothes, while for others, colored outfits turned into a career break.
From the park, the short but bright "hipster thaw" of the early 2010s began, when the Gorky Park in Moscow turned into an open, comfortable and stylish place.
Beauty salon. Urban style is not only clothes, shoes and accessories, but also hair and makeup. A beauty salon is an important place where the image of a city dweller was formed. Until the end of the 19th century, hairdressers (barbers) in Russia were very rare, and even in the capital cities, residents cut their hair at "wandering" barbers. Respectable ladies used the services of French couriers.
Representatives of the middle class cut their hair in baths, and the poor - right in the market, in a tavern or a pub. The barber carried a chair with him, seated the client where he had to, and immediately carried out various procedures, and sometimes not only hairdressers - for example, he could, at the request of the client, cut off a wart or even pull out a tooth. Only at the beginning of the 20th century, acts that forbade barbers from any manipulations, except those related to hair, appeared. In the capitals, already in the 1900s, civilized hairdressers almost completely replaced barbers, there were more and more salons, and a culture of service was formed. There were very few hairdressing salons in the regions.
The work of hairdressing salons was finally established, structured and regulated (but without the former service) already in the USSR of the 1930s. Hairdressing salons should be located only indoors, have a separate entrance and be isolated from residential, industrial and commercial premises. Visitors with skin diseases were not allowed to service, those who came in an untidy, dirty and drunk state were not allowed to have their hair cut. In addition, it was not allowed to serve adults in special children's hairdressers.
In the 1930s, Soviet cosmetology and beauty salons appeared. However, with all this development, hairstyles and makeup were not varied.
In the era of the thaw, girls began to experiment with hair. The “sorceress” hairstyle came into fashion (loose hair, like Marina Vladi in the film of the same name), and then the “babbet” (like the heroine Brigitte Bardot). "Babbets" and "beehives" grew in volume and required styling products that the Soviet industry did not produce. Then, hairdressers invented homemade hairspray - a mixture of furniture varnish and cologne in a spray bottle.
By the beginning of the 2020s, the beauty industry in Russia has reached an incredible development. The hairdressing world has its own stars, such as Vladimir Sarbashev, the inventor of the innovative Air Touch coloring method, which is now used all over the world.
Business street. It may seem that a townswoman in Russia before the revolution is a domestic wife who, in her youth, is waiting for a “successful party”, and then takes care of her family and outfits all her life, not being able to be realized in any other way. Unlike many European countries, Russia in the second half of the 19th century was open to women's entrepreneurial activity. Women made up about 13% of the merchant class in the capitals. Russian legislation did not restrict women in trade in any way: women could take merchant certificates and serve as clerks on an equal basis with men. In 1871, Emperor Alexander II signed the law "On the admission of women to serve in public and government institutions." This document officially canceled any career restrictions for women. Therefore, it is wrong to say that men and women were equalized in rights by the October Revolution. Although after the revolution there were indeed many more working women, the percentage of housewives tends to a minimum. However, the explanation for this is not legal liberation, but the need and public disapproval of domestic "loafers".
The image of a businesslike and active woman-comrade, who had broken out of "kitchen slavery" into big people, was actively cultivated by the Soviet authorities. The heroines of mass culture often became women commissars, deputies, directors of factories, schools, heads of collective farms and party activists. In the era of the thaw, women scientists, astronauts, and researchers were added to them. In the nineties, the image of a successful entrepreneur returned, having come a long way from a market saleswoman to a respectable businesswoman.
Belted trench coat, Steilmann, Germany, first half of the 1980s. Boots, USSR, 1980s.
Coat with embossed pattern on the chest, A.A. Levashov, USSR, 1974. Boots, Italy, 1970s-1980s.
Beige coat, Yugoslavia, second half of the 1970s. Knitted jumper, Verpstas knitting factory, Lithuania, 1970s. Shoes, Hungary, 1970s.
Astrakhan fur coat, USSR, 1959-1962. Bag, USSR, late 1950s-1960s. Boots, USSR, 1960s.
Panama, milky phone bag, blue palazzo trousers, hooded trench coat, blue cropped jacket. Moscow, Laroom, designer Evgenia Legkodymova, 2021.
Pierre Cardin suit, Paris, 1990s. Jacket with diamonds, Moscow, 1986-1989. Blouse with bow, Ralph, Western Europe, late 1970s. Skirt, USSR, late 1970s-1980s.
Set "Moscow streets": cardigan and trousers, I.I. Wolfman, USSR, Moscow, 1970-1974; blouse, USSR, 1970-1974.
Red jacket and trousers, black shirt, House of Leo, designer Leonid Alekseev, St. Petersburg, 2022. Cloak, T.A. Faidel and S.A. Zaslavskaya, Moscow, 1962.
Jumper, beige boots, black hobo bag, silk midi skirt, jacket coat, 12 STOREEZ, Moscow, autumn/winter 2022/2023 collection.
Visiting dress, Russia, late 1870s. Day dress, Western Europe, 1880s. Daytime dress: blouse, Russia, 1900s, black velvet skirt, Russia, 1910s, belt buckle, Western Europe, 1900s. Day dress for a pregnant woman, Russia, 1860s.
The railway station is the gate to the city, it is the first thing the new townspeople see. Now more people use airports, that is outside the city, meanwhile the station is a place not far from the center. After the abolition of serfdom, former peasants became residents of cities, so the exhibition presents several outfits of peasant women.
The station is a place of meetings and partings, the beginning of a new trip or a return home.
On a separate podium, five girls with flowers, they meet those who returned from the war in 1945.
Peasant woman in the city, late 19th century. Wealthy industrialist on the road: hat, boots, rotunda, dress, gloves, 1900s.
Oversized cardigan, t-shirt, jeans, Monochrome brand, designer Alisa Bokha, Moscow, 2021.
Dark blue coat and dress, brand Victoria Andreyanova, designer Victoria Andreyanova, Moscow, spring/summer 2017 collection.
An intellectual in a walking suit (jacket, skirt, blouse, low shoes), late 1910s. Peasant women working in the city, late 19th century.