Fashion in Socialism

Fashion in Socialism

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Our exhibition looks back upon the four decades of state controlled fashion, the years from the fifties to the end of the eighties.

Following the years of anti-fashion policy of the Hungarian Workers’ Party, the golden age of workers’ clothes and tractor-overalls, the idea of neatly dressed women, mainly working women, resurfaced in the second half of the 1950s. The state institutions controlling the fashion of the era undertook this task. Their efforts, and the collections exhibited in representative shows, served as proof at home as well as abroad that there was something beyond the iron curtain that could be called fashion. The socialist fashion served as a shop window for the world as well as for us. It was an instrument in the hands of the political elite to make us believe our national economy was functioning well, ignoring the records in the complaint books and the acute shortage of articles indicated in commercial reports.

A large part of the exhibited articles are examples of the „socialist good taste“, as well as of the honorable efforts made by our wives and daughters, proving that it was possible to follow the fashion trends in Hungary as well, even if these trends were subordinated to functionality and moderation. Not only the privileged women, but also ordinary people could find a way, somehow, to be nicely dressed: they either worked nights in the „second economy“ for some extra money, or they smuggled and bought the current clothes on the black market, or they dressed from packages sent by relatives or friends living abroad. In some cases, they sewed clothes, or had them sewed from material received from Western Europe and America or bought under the counter in Hungary.

With the help of the presented articles, documents and movies, we intended – without aiming at any completeness - to introduce a period of time and its relation to fashion. The collection as a whole can be seen in itself as a shop window, dressed according to the main conceptions of aesthetics and attraction, that introduces visitors to a small segment of the given field.

The exhibiton is available till the 14th of January, 2008


Curator of the exhibition: Ildikó Simonovics
Budapest Historical Museum – Kiscelli Museum
1037-Budapest, Kiscelli utca 108.
T/F: 368-79-17
Tel: 250-03-04, 388-85-60

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