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June 15, 2014

Amazing Color Photographs Capture Dior Fashion Models in Moscow in 1959

During 1959, the Soviet Union officially allowed fashion shows, and stopped persecution of people in trendy clothes. That decision created a preferrable atmosphere and allowed Madame Suzanne Lulling, who was the Head of Dior Salon at the time to organize a fashion show in Moscow. The show took place in the House of Culture "Wings of the Soviets", decorated in the French tri-colors. There were 11,000 invitations for "défilé" which were sent only to the higher members of Communist party and to the Soviet elite.

As a part of the show and to allow regular people to have a look at the models in their beautiful outfits, the organisers arranged a walk through the center of Moscow. They visited Red Square, local markets, adjacent streets, and to an area that was the center of Soviet fashion, and one of the spots you had to visit while in Moscow. 3 out of 12 models took part in the walk, and Mr. Howard Sochurek (official photographer of the whole Dior event) was with them, ready to record all the amazing moments of the clashing cultures and fashions.

As Svetlana Smetanina of ‘Moscow News Weekly’ depicted: "After the Dior fashion show, ‘Pravda Daily’ wrote that some of the styles were too open and short, and that they would not look nice on women who are stout and of short stature. It was evidently taken for granted that the majority of Soviet women were stout and not tall. One of the Soviet magazines of those days described narrow skirts and spike-heeled shoes thus: "Bourgeois fashion makers come up with such styles that the woman has difficulty walking and must wrap herself around her man."

Djurdja Bartlett, fashion historian and researcher with the London College of Fashion, has a non-standard explanation for the Soviet system's strong aversion to European fashion. According to him, the shifting fashion trends unwittingly personified the times; it posed a threat to the system, which valued stability above all.

(Photographed by Howard Sochurek for LIFE Magazine)



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