Ideology and clothes : the rise and decline of socialist official fashion
This thesis focuses on the relationship between the socialist system and fashion in four countries: Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and the Soviet Union during seventy-two years of communist rule. From its beginning in 1917, the socialist system had an antagonistic relationship with fashion, which eventually turned into a grudging acceptance by the end of the 1980s. I identify two main types of sartorial official codes within socialism: utopian dress and socialist official fashion. I analyse these ideological constructs through the concepts of time, class, taste and gender. The symbolic production of utopian dress was informed by the initial Bolshevik rejection of the past and the search for a totally new type of clothes. Socialist official fashion reflected the regimes' ontological fear of change and discontinuity, and in the later phases of socialism their need to dress up their new middle classes in civilian clothes. The socialist regimes failed to invent a new socialist dress. Instead, they embraced the most traditional aesthetics in dress and the most conventional notion of gender. I demonstrate that similarities and differences in socialist official fashion were informed by ideological shifts within the master narratives in the respective countries. I conclude that the problematic relationship between socialism and fashion was caused by their ontological differences.