Khrushchev Era (1950s-1960s)

The Khrushchev Thaw brought a greater representation of Western fashion to domestic media. Journalists were sent abroad to report on the latest international fashion trends.[43] However, state-owned fashion institutions and magazines moderated these trends for Soviet audiences. Fashion crazes were rejected in favor of classic, long-running styles.[44] In addition, moderation and modesty were stressed.[45] Coco Chanels signature style, for example, was particularly admired as a symbol of timelessness and simple sophistication.[46] An article in the New York Times from 1959 slammed Soviet fashions as unremarkable, clumsy copies of outdated Western forms.[47] Availability of these styles, however, was on the rise. Shops like the newly reopened GUM department store now carried the new fashions, albeit at high prices.[48] The states new approach towards fashion was carefully calculated. The promotion of exorbitant fashion that occurred in the Stalin era, and the contrast to actual availability, had led to public resentment. In the Khrushchev era, the state-owned clothing industry was still unable to produce mass amounts of fashionable clothing.[49] However, simplified fashions, rejection of excess, and high prices gave the industry a measure of control over consumer demand.[50] By the early 1960s, the middle classs standards of appearance had risen such that Moscow street fashion was nearly indistinguishable from that in a Western city.[51] At the same time, counterculture fashion movements grew among elite youths. The stilyagi, or style hunters, originally based their look on media portrayals of Western (especially American) fashions. Men wore items such as Hawaiian shirts, sunglasses, narrow slacks, and pointed shoes, while female stilyagi wore miniskirts and maintained a childlike demeanor. These styles were labeled as excessive, and Komsomol groups would sometimes raid stilyagi hideouts and cut off their hair and pant legs. The Khrushchev Thaw (or Khrushchev's Thaw; Russian: ?, tr. Khrushchovskaya Ottepel; IPA: [xrofsk?j? ?otpl?] or simply ttepel)[1] refers to the period from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s, when repression and censorship in the Soviet Union were reversed and millions of Soviet political prisoners were released from Gulag labor camps, due to Nikita Khrushchev's policies of de-Stalinization[2] and peaceful coexistence with other nations. The Thaw became possible after the death of Joseph Stalin in March 1953. Khrushchev denounced Stalin[3] in "The Secret Speech" at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party,[4][5] then ousted the pro-Stalinists during his power struggle in the Kremlin. The term was coined after Ilya Ehrenburg's 1954 novel The Thaw, "",[6] sensational for its time. The Khrushchev Thaw was highlighted by Khrushchev's 1954 visit to Beijing, People's Republic of China, his 1955 visit to Belgrade, Yugoslavia and his subsequent meeting with Dwight Eisenhower later that year, culminating in Khrushchev's 1959 visit to the United States. The Thaw initiated irreversible transformation of the entire Soviet society by opening up for some economic reforms and international trade, educational and cultural contacts, festivals, books by foreign authors, foreign movies, art shows, popular music, dances and new fashions, massive involvement in international sport competitions; it was a chain of unprecedented steps to free people from fear and dictatorship that culminated in the removal of Stalin's body from Lenin's Mausoleum. Although the power struggle between liberals and conservative pro-Stalinists never stopped, it eventually weakened the Soviet Communist Party. Khrushchev's Thaw allowed some freedom of information in the media, arts and culture; international festival, foreign films, uncensored books, and new forms of entertainment on the emerging national TV, ranging from massive parades and celebrations to popular music and variety shows, satire and comedies, and all-star shows,[citation needed] like Goluboy Ogonek. Such political and cultural updates all together helped liberate minds of millions and changed public consciousness of several generations of people in the Soviet Union.