Short skirts, the backwardness of the Bolshoi and popular canary exports

Young women and an officer during the walk, Russia. Source: Fotosoyuz/Vostock-Photo

Young women and an officer during the walk, Russia. Source: Fotosoyuz/Vostock-Photo

RBTH turns the clock back a century and shines a light on the now-forgotten stories being reported on the inside pages of Russian newspapers in 1915 and the events and processes occupying the minds of the Russians of the age. Travel back in time with us week by week for a sense of what life was like in the twilight days of the Russian Empire.

The success of Russian canary breeding

In the last three years the Russian canary has obtained such success in America that now special agents are busy buying our canaries and shipping them to New York. Special cages are being used to ship the birds to the other side of the ocean – these do not roll back and forth thanks to the fact that they are built like steamship lamps.

Petrogradsky Listok, May 11

Mocking the public

In the last few years a strange and incomprehensible phenomenon has been observed at the Bolshoi Theater: The most avant-garde and most interesting productions are staged in the last days of the season. Throughout the season the public must content itself with old and hackneyed productions, while the new ones are staged in the last days. Is the Bolshoi Theater, with all its power, really incapable of arranging the productions in a way that they would be shown on time? We would not be mistaken in saying that not one theater in the world would mock its public in such a way.

Vecherniye Vesti, May 12, 1915


The tsarina of fashion is extraordinarily capricious

It has been a while since our fashionable Moscow ladies were jumping like kangaroos with narrow skirts wrapped around their legs. Now there is something else. The bell-skirt swells freely from the waist down. But the snake tails – the trains – are gone. Today's skirts have been shortened to the maximum. They are now so short that on certain ladies you can see the entire high boot with the laces. Take a walk on the Kuznetsky Bridge. So provocative are the ladies' legs. The ladies whose legs do not resemble those of Venus de Milo are very angry about this frivolous fashion trend. "It's so silly!" they exclaim fussily.

The price of the refined leather that arrived from Germany before the war has soared. Shoemakers are creatively making ladies’ boots from all possible materials, but not from leather. It is now warm and the women are happy wearing their open shoes, which require only a little amount of precious leather. Which colors do the fashionable women of Moscow prefer? Bottle color, dark green… Bright yellow, the hue of egg yolk, soft-boiled. The lilac color has somewhat faded. Apparently, the Muscovites are tired of it.

Ranee Utro, May 13, 1915

A brigade of shoe workshops

Today the Committee of the All-Russian Municipal Union is sending the first brigade of shoe workshops to the front. The squadron includes 15 cobblers headed by an experienced instructor. They are to repair military footwear during the campaigns and teach the soldiers to fix them while they are bathing.

Ranee Utro, May 14, 1915

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