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Fashion Editorial: Communist Chic

Fashion Editorial: Communist Chic

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FASHION CREDITS:

  • Photographer: Michal Grzyb
  • Stylist: Cezary Glusniewski/ MlodyStylista
  • Model: Olga K @ SPECTO MODELS
  • Make up: Zuzanna Czaplińska
  • Stylist assistant: Wioleta Zochowska

How to stay classy when there is nothing to wear? Everyday wear plays a vital role in lives of most people, so believe it or not, clothes matter. And what if the oppressive political system uses its power to distinguish the only one way of outfit, marginalizing the phenomenon of fashion? Post-war period is associated with the development of modern consumerism and rapid socio-political changes. Clothing and good-looking were no longer pushed away but became a key element of new lifestyle and also a part of culture. Clothes started to express a social position, emphasizing individuality and a good taste. Completely different situation took place during 1950s. in Poland. Since communists took their power, political issues started to get a great influence on fashion. Simple and utilitarian Soviet-style of clothing, any kind of diversity banned. It does not mean that all Polish women looked the same!

It’s obvious that most women wanted to feel charming and flirty. Looking stylish and unique in communist Poland was quite a challenge, so fifties, sixties and seventies were a kind of do-it-yourself era. The young ones were creating their own style, different from the one officially promoted by the authorities. Moreover, neither lack of fabrics, nor oppressive system discouraged young women and men from following the latest trends. They adopted them really quickly, understanding that they do not need a big budget and brand new clothes to feel exclusively. It’s all about imagination and courage to wear outstanding creations. Paradoxically, communist regime fighting against everyday fashion set a lot of creativity free. Breaking fashion rules? Why not! Mixing different non-matching prints or colors, using various fabrics and then sewing and dying them all by themselves. And wearing them inside-out. The result of those experiments might look as a kitsch or campy style but it was always original. And still, wearing such daring clothes was brave, it was taken as a kind of political manifest.

Thanks to fashion magazines (there were not as many of them as you could see outside of Iron Curtain) keeping up-to-date with latest trends in western fashion was really easy. Trend reports reprinted mostly from British and French Vogue editions created good taste. Barbara Hoff was the one who brought a fresh eye to boring communist chic. Witty writing was not only a part of fashion mission but also a form of opportunism. Fashion was a pretext to fight against communist authorities. Young Poles bored with “soc-realistic” doctrine wished something new and Hoff provided them with lots of inspirations.

Hoff debuted in late 50s. as a columnist in Przekroj, writing about western fashion. Later, as a designer she built an empire – Hoffland. But it is hard to talk about polish fashion not mentioning Jadwiga Grabowska first. It was common saying that Paris had Coco Chanel and Warsaw had Jadwiga Grabowska. She was the first fashion designer in Poland, a kind of arbiter of good taste and elegance. Inspired by Paris catwalks she created Moda Polska, first fashion house ever. Replacing tedious and shapeless clothes, Grabowska introduced ladylike silhouettes, bringing back pre-war elegance and feminine allure. Tight waist, rounded shoulder line and pointed bust were immensely popular. Moreover, Moda Polska organized fashion shows twice a year. But it was not that easy, Grabowska needed communist authorities’ approval. Despite oppressive political system and its influence on everyday activities, Grabowska and her innovative approach was known on both sides on Iron Curtain. Moda Polska was a symbol of free and modern polish fashion.

Later, Barbara Hoff revolutionized polish way of dressing by introducing stylish and bold colored clothes. Associated with swinging sixties and Twiggy era mini skirts were really popular and women felt in love with them quickly. People waited in enormous queues to get something with Hoffland label even if it meant fighting for every single item. Hoff inspired many women. An example? Legendary shoes called trumniaki (from polish “trumna” – a coffin). They were substitutes of popular flat shoes – when you cannot get something you need, you have to do it by yourself, and so she did. When you cut out a part with laces from commonly available sneakers and paint the entire shoe black you got a unique pair of ballet flats as a result.

Mostly, polish fashion in communist era was a way of self-expression, a kind of weapon against oppressive regime. It was a form of rebellion. The authorities paid close attention to citizens’ outfits, promoting grey and shapeless clothes. Fancy clothing was oppressed by the communist establishment. But harsh political conditions did not discourage Poles from manifesting their individuality. Among the youth ones there were plenty of subcultures. The first one was a kind of Polish beatniks whose outstanding appearance attracted attention of the whole society. They wore checkered jackets with big shoulder line, a cap and stiffened (with egg whites) hair. As in many other countries, also in Poland there were Hippies and Punks. All of them were oppressed for inappropriate outfits, not approved by the communists. Even if wearing outstanding, vivid clothes meant harsh consequences it was a great fun to be unique in this sad and grey reality.

WARDROBE CREDITS:

  • LOOK 1: Top: Picantti, Pants: Bola, Heels: Kazar, Belt Kazar
  • LOOK 2: Top: Bola, Jewelry: Lewanowicz
  • LOOK 3: Top: Bola, Shorts: Picantti, Shoes: Kazar, Jewelry: Lewanowicz
  • LOOK 4: Jacket: Robert Kuta, Top and body: Picantti, Boots: Kazar
  • LOOK 5: Top: Picantti, Pants: Bola, Jewelry: Lewanowicz
  • LOOK 6: Top and skirt: Picantti, Heels: Kazar, Jewelry: Lewanowicz
  • LOOK 7: Top and skirt: Picantti, Heels: Kazar, Jewelry: Lewanowicz
  • LOOK 8: Jacket: Robert Kuta, Top and skirt: Picantti, Jewelry: Lewanowicz, Boots: Kazar
  • LOOK 9: Jacket: Robert Kuta, Top and skirt: Picantti, Jewelry: Lewanowicz,
  • LOOK 10: Top and skirt: Picantti, Jewelry: Lewanowicz, Boots: Kaza
  • LOOK 11: Top and skirt: Picantti, Jewelry: Lewanowicz,
  • LOOK 12: Top and skirt: Picantti, Jewelry: Lewanowicz,
  • LOOK 13: Jacket: Bola, Body: Picantti, Hat: Picantti, Shoes: Kazar, Bag: Kazar
  • LOOK 14: Dress: Picantti, Heels: Kazar, Jewelry: Lewanowicz,

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