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Fashioning Fashion in Socialist Bulgaria
Fashioning Fashion in Socialist Bulgaria

Author(s): Svetla I. Kazalarska
Subject(s): Social Sciences
Published by: Centre for Advanced Study Sofia (CAS)

Summary/Abstract: Socialist authorities had a rather ambivalent relationship with fashion throughout the regime’s rule. On the one hand, fashion was ideologically incompatible with socialist ideals, as it was considered a repugnant and unwanted remnant of the decadent, bourgeois, capitalist society; on the other hand, it was deliberately employed as an ideological tool in the shaping of the “new socialist man”, inculcating socialist moral values and virtues. Furthermore, fashion was subject to the pragmatic considerations governing the centrally planned economy of production and distribution and its deficiencies, and at the same time it played an instrumental role both in promoting socialist “consumer culture”, especially from the 1960s onwards, and in encouraging some black market practices. On yet another note, fashion under socialism in Bulgaria, even if tied to the Soviet fashion model, struggled to emancipate itself from Western fashion by resorting to the invention of a specific national style in accordance with the formula “national in form, socialist in content”, and, contrary to the alleged break with traditions of the past, by incorporating motifs borrowed from the “traditional” folk costume. All the same, the popular imagination remained fascinated with Western fashion and commodities, resulting in a variety of alternative fashion practices, some of which were persecuted by the authorities. As one of the most conspicuous everyday manifestations of socialism’s advancement in material culture and standard of living, fashion in clothing was thus inevitably implicated in the Cold War.

  • Issue Year: 2014
  • Issue No: 6
  • Page Range: 1-25
  • Page Count: 25
  • Language: English