Fashion from the Communist Era on Display in Bratislava

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Most of us think about trends, designs, and taste when it comes to fashion. What we forget about is the era of the clothing itself, where it came from, how the economic history of the past reflected fashion back then. Each country has their own form of fashion, cultures ranging in specialty clothing that speaks about tradition and individual style.

That is why in Slovakia, co-curator Zuzana Šidlíková opened up a fashion exhibition at the Slovak National Gallery. The exhibition gathered ideas for other people to do their own exhibitions about what fashion was like in the old days, as we like to call it now.

Fashion in Slovakia from the years 1945-1989 are being displayed at the Esterházy Palace of SNG in Bratislava. The exhibition revolved around the Communist era of fashion. Models, photographs, patterns, designs, and more will be showcased.

The 1950’s section will bring together the capitalism and the criticism of the “rotten west” with the “thawing” of politics in 1968. In the 1980’s section, the demonstration will wander into the outside world to other capitalist countries.

The first couple years of communism were dedicated to a sober clothing style. There was not much individualism happening because the practical side was more appealing that the aesthetic one. There was an effort to try and unite the world of fashion, but it was difficult since everyone was sticking to a strict look, probably because of the politicians who were carefully inspecting what people were doing.

The exhibit promoted nostalgia, but for some, it reminded them of the oppression that they had to face.

Slovak clothing plants were better than what they are like now, which is why the display is interesting. Although there was a gap in creating your own taste, studios were doing well in the 1950’s. Other factories were established later on.

The factories were self-sufficient and made it possible for thousand of workers to have a job. When the communist regime fell, factories and jobs fell with it.

But in 1981, Czechoslovakia obtained a license to start producing the iconic Cooper jeans and the country took off. International fashion shows began showing in Czechoslovakia in the 1940’s, with the intent to restore factories. There was a Christian Dior show that helped western fashion become publicized in Czechoslovakia.

Generations of women were the ones manufacturing the clothing in Czechoslovakia. They learned from an early age how to sew, knit, and embroider. Ready-made patterns started to come into view, and a service took off where you could purchase patterns and have someone make them and ship it out to you.

Custom tailoring came into business followed by fashion designers in the 1980’s, who were budding in their own fashion lines. Artifacts were also present in the museum that were mainly old documents from fashion journalists, individual plants, and promotional materials.

The exhibition lasts for about five months and it includes a sewing class, various events, and a tour in English on May 7th. Leaflets and booklets are also available in English at the entrance.

"I am a ship and I promise I will make it to the shores alive". Hello! My name is Serena Anthony, currently residing here in Chicago, IL, recently come from a five year stay in Malaysia. I am a Fashion Business major at Columbia College with a passion for incorporating writing and fashion together, which is awesome given that those are two of my favourite things. Especially after great sushi and a killer moshe cristo. Columbia is giving me the benefit of creatively getting a handle on my goals. Because I love art, more so when I get into a frenzy, this college is a mix of serious and enjoyable experiences. I hope to keep my future like that as well!

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