Communism and fashion seem to be polar opposites in the sense that one renounces business and appearances and the other is the business of appearances. But fashion is so more than a business, it is a way of communicating culture, abandoning all language and embracing the aesthetic. This tool of communication is a medium that usually reserved for the bourgeois. Yet, in communism fashion has found the perfect marriage between subject and medium. This is personified in the lasting power of the communist image. It reverberates and instills a sense of nostalgia, not for former regimes and political parties that manipulated the ideology and the public without limit or mercy, but for the aesthetic of a bygone era.
The fashion of communists during the mid-20th century was infused with purposeful and practical minimalism. The fashion, the physical mannerisms of the time, made their mark on Moscow, East Berlin, Budapest, Bucharest, Tirana, Sofia, and later Havana; so much so that people are nostalgic for that impression again. Communist fashion captured the understated wildness of young people and their hopes for education and revolutionary change. Similarly today young people have once again, out of desperation, bought into the same ideals of revolution and education (as demonstrated in the Arab Spring). The difference between the Arab Spring and Cuban Revolution, is the unique aesthetic that Fidel and company used as a united front to communicate their revolution. Che with the iconic beret, Fidel’s military uniform, Trotsky or Kalinin with their goatees; these fashion choices became symbols (abundantly available ones) for something bigger.
This nostalgia for the aesthetic needs to satiated; it is time for communism to meet the catwalk (au couture style of course, otherwise it would be too commercialistic and lose all significance). It would certainly be a great show for Budapest to host. But please let’s limit the capitalist overtones to a minimum.