Fashion in Communist Romania through official lens: developing a civilised commerce and educating a good taste

This event will take place on the 1st of November, 16.00-18.00, Council Room, Faculty of Sociology and Social Work (Schitu Măgureanu. nr.9), sector 5, Bucharest.

foto4‘Communist fashion’ occupies in the common vocabulary and in the collective and affective memory of Romanians one of those unquestioned but familiar ‘common places’ (Svetlana Boym, 1994). Such a phrase might seem a bit odd, given that fashion inspires something transient and singular, while communism, on the contrary, aspires towards longevity and uniformity. Therefore, it is worth asking ourselves what are we talking about when we talk about Communist fashion? Given the little research on this topic, I aim here to find answers through an exploratory immersion into the early decades of the Romanian communist regime. Based on archive documents, I will firstly show how the entire commercial and production system of the fashion industry was reorganized based on a different socioeconomic structure. Two of the main goals of this system were the development of a ‘civilised commerce’ and the education of the ‘good taste’ of the citizens. Secondly, I will review several meanings of fashion as they were proposed by the different actors of the new system. As a provisional conclusion, they do not seem to converge towards a unified concept of communist (Romanian) fashion.

Alina Popescu (https://u-paris10.academia.edu/alinapopescu) studied sociology at Babes-Bolyai University in Cuj, at Université de Nantes and at Université Paris X-Nanterre. In 2015 she obtained a doctorate degree in Political Science with a thesis on censorship in Romanian cinema during the communist period, from Université Paris Ouest – Nanterre la Défense. As an ICUB fellow, she is currently working on a new research project about the ‘50s to ‘60s fashion in Romania. Her research interests are focused on the cultural history, the visual and material culture of communism as they are related to the social history of emotions.

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