Noone could imagine Dior models walking the Moscow Streets during the iron rule of Joseph Stalin. But soon after his death in March 1953, Nikita Khrushchev became a new leader of the USSR. And the period called “Khrushchev’s Thaw” started. It opened up the country for some economic reforms and international trade, educational and cultural contacts, festivals, books by foreign authors, foreign movies, art shows, popular music, dances, and new fashions, and massive involvement in international sports competitions.
Take a look at how Soviet Moscow looked like in the late 1980s.
In 1959, the Soviet Union officially allowed fashion shows. That allowed Madame Suzanne Lulling, the Head of Dior Salon at the time, to take the opportunity to organize a fashion show in Moscow.
Under the directorship of Yves Saint Laurent, the new head of Dior, the Parisian brand held a five-day fashion show featuring 12 models, at the House of Culture’s “Wings of the Soviets.”
Attendance at the Dior show was by ticket. 11,000 invitations for “défilé” were distributed only among 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 Dior models in their beautiful outfits, the organizers arranged a walk through the center of Moscow.
3 out of 12 models took part in the walk and photo shoot.
They visited Red Square, local markets, adjacent streets, and the
the USSR’s premier department store GUM.
The main Soviet newspaper of that time “Pravda” 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.
Other magazine wrote: “Bourgeois fashion makers come up with such styles that the woman has difficulty walking and must wrap herself around her man.”