Dr. Liudmila Aliabieva's- of the Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow and Editor in Chief of Russian Fashion Theory- drew us in from the offset with an eye opening personal account dealing with her experiences growing up in Soviet Russia.
In every home could be found a sewing machine, not however because of some prevailing trend, but because- even if you didn't make professionally, you had to make for your family for survival. It is in this way, she noted, that these residents went green simply because they had no choice. Items once made, were very often passed down 3 generations- potentially changing form with every hand over.
Unfortunately, even for those who did have money there was nothing to spend it on- explaining why people tended to hold onto their possessions for such a long time. It was not because they particularly loved them but just that there was no alternative. Fashion too had to change to this environment- uncharacteristically slowing down- even freezing altogether.
More recently however, there has been a kind of hand made revival in Russia with beautiful and unique crafts and resulting communities springing up everywhere. While some still feel the stigma of secondhand representing poverty, others are embracing the trend in a bid to allow their clothing to finally portray their individuality (although it must be noted that this look is heavily marketed). There is also a feeling- as there seems to be among some circles in the UK of late- of wishing to slow down the fast pace of modern life, wanting to feel time with the things they most enjoy. This is a concept I think we should mull over........ perhaps in a quiet place, away from the stresses of everyday life ;)
Sorry I missed......... Jennifer Sargeant (University of Warwick) speaking on English Madames and French Fashion: the lure of Paris and ready-to-wear women's clothing in interwar Britain.