Chekist Chic: Nostalgia for Soviet Fashion Is a Hit in Moscow

Today the New York Times writes about fashion designer Denis Simachev, whose main gimmick is the incorporation of Soviet era symbols, cues and kitsch into apparel items that can cost upwards of $2,000. There are some priceless quotes in the story, such as the designer remarking that “People in their 30s see these kinds of symbols as reminders of happy memories, like going to pioneer camp where they lived together, ate breakfast together and played sports.” Others don’t have the same experience when they see Stalin’s face emblazoned across trendy t-shirts: “Personally, I would never wear something by Denis Simachev because, for me, those symbols mean Stalinist terror, Communism, a K.G.B. spy system and the cold war,” said Alexandre Vassiliev, a fashion historian. And so continues the complex process of Russia negotiating its understanding of recent history and national identity… Simachev isn’t the first to discover how much merchandise you can move by using the president’s image, but he is certainly right in knowing that Russians are tired of being told to be ashamed of a past for which they are not responsible. simachev.jpg