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c.1950s

See Dior models in the streets of Moscow in the Fifties

Le Cold War? C’est chic

Trailed by a crowd of locals, a trio of Dior fashion models including model Kouka Denis walk along a sidewalk, Moscow, Russia, 1959. (Photo by Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

In June 1959, at the very height of the cold war, the Christian Dior fashion house launched its latest women’s clothing line—in Communist Russia. 

Under the directorship of Yves Saint Laurent, the new head of Dior, the Parisian brand held a five-day fashion show featuring 12 models, at the House of Culture’s “Wings of the Soviets.”

The timing was key. 1959 was the year in which the Soviet authorities finally removed their ban on fashion shows, and also ended the practice of persecuting citizens who, they believed, dressed inappropriately for Communism.

Attendance at the Dior show was by ticket. 11,000 invitations to attend were distributed to both the higher echelons of Soviet society, and to the more significant member of the Communist party.

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These pictures, at first glance a staged shoot, actually document a part of the show.  In order for ordinary citizens to be able to enjoy the models and their couture, Dior facilitated a promenade for three of the 12 models through the streets of Moscow—to the amazement of these Muscovites.

At the flower market at Paviletsky.
Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
At the flower market at Paviletsky.
Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
At the GUM deptartment store.
Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Beside soda pop vending machines in Gorki Park of Culture & Rest.
Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
“Bourgeois fashion makers come up with such styles that a woman has difficulty walking and must wrap herself around her man.”
Soviet report of the Dior show
In Moscow.
Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Visiting GUM deptartment store.
Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
At GUM.
Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
In Moscow.
Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Attracting crowd of Russians.
Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Women on the street take a glance at Dior fashion.
Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Visiting GUM department store.
Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Meeting Russians on the street.
Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Walking the streets and posing with a sailor.
Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Walking the streets and getting reaction from locals.
Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
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