What images do you associate with pre-revolutionary Russian ladies? Probably peasant women...
A peasant womanAlexey Mazurin/MAMM/MDF
...or gymnasium students...
A gymnasium studentDanilov I. photostudio A. Bazhanova/MAMM/MDF
And, of course, aristocrats
Duchess Zinaida YusupovaUnknown author/Arkhangelskoye Museum Estate
MORE PHOTOS from the 1900–10s available here
After the Revolution, everything changed, including women’s appearance. The first Komsomol members made leather jackets fashionable, and the NEP era and avant-garde art ushered in stylish hats and dresses.
The era’s defining sex symbol was Lilya Brik with her overt eroticism.
Lilya BrikAlexander Rodchenko/MAMM/MDF
The Blue Blouse agitprop theater staged variety performances; this is a scene from a sketch called “Metropolitan.”Unknown author/Bakhrushin State Central Theater Museum
Portrait of a NEP womanMikhail Smodor/"Kostroma antiquity"
MORE PHOTOS from the 1920s available here
At the height of Stalinism, when collectivization and industrialization were sweeping the USSR, women were expected, above all, to be useful members of society. You won't see many fashionistas in old photos of this time — they were condemned as carriers of harmful capitalist values.
But you will see workers...
"At the call of the Komsomol, to the mine!" Workers at the Gorlovka mineGeorgy Zelma/RIA Novosti collection
... and athletes.
Women carrying scarves. Sports parade on Red SquareAlexander Rodchenko/MAMM/MDF
MORE PHOTOS from the 1930s available here
World War II recalibrated the way that Russian women looked and dressed. Many dressed in military uniform
Sniper Lyudmila PavlichenkoIvan Shagin/MAMM/MDF
or worked in factories in the rear
At a defense factory. Female "Stakhanovite" A.M. Maryashina at workState Historical Museum of the Southern Urals
Only long-awaited Victory on May 9, 1945, allowed people to relax — simple pleasures, such as walking and sunbathing by the sea, were caught on camera.
Vacation in CrimeaAndrey Novikov/MAMM/MDF
MORE PHOTOS from the 1940s available here
The post-war years, the death of Stalin, and the start of the “Khrushchev thaw” completely transformed the fairer half of the USSR.
These were the years of smiles
... hopes for a new life...
... and a return to la dolce vita
Actress Irina MushtakovaSemen Mishin-Morgenstern/MAMM/MDF
MORE PHOTOS from the 1950s available here
The Khrushchev thaw continued, the smiles became wider. Women started sporting trendy glasses, high hairstyles, and snazzy chintz dresses.
Lady with umbrellaArchive of Olga Martynova/russiainphoto.ru
The first fashionistas appeared.
All-Union House of ModelsEvgeny Umnov/MAMM/MDF
Beautiful actresses conquered male hearts and became immortalized in screen classics.
Actress Alisa FreindlichOleg Mertsedin/MAMM/MDF
MORE PHOTOS from the 1960s available here
These were the years of the Brezhnev stagnation, yet the lives of ordinary Soviet people were in full swing. Women found time for stylish hairdos
Valentina Tereshkova at an exhibition of Soviet space technologyYaroslavl State Historical-Architectural and Art Museum-Reserve
And acquired hard-to-get fashionable coats.
Trolleybus driversMikhail Savin/MAMM/MDF
And enjoyed life in their own, albeit cramped, living space
MORE PHOTOS from the 1970s available here
Gorbachev's perestroika brought new hopes for the future, and the first sips of freedom changed the image and outlook of Soviet women — their outfits and appearance speak louder than words.
Moscow beautiesSergey Borisov/MAMM/MDF
Oversized glasses were a sign of the times
Actress Natalya BelokhvostikovaAlexander Steshanov/MAMM/MDF
The music changed too, and the country saw its first rockers
Girls sing The Beatles in a hostel, LeningradArchive of Galina Piskunova
MORE PHOTOS from the 1980s available here
With the collapse of the USSR, the borders were opened, Russia embraced Western trends, and a mood of total freedom and permissiveness prevailed.
Moscow life.Peter Turnley/Getty Images
Women discovered snow-washed jeans, bright leggings, and fishnet tights.
Moscow, 1990. Models after a workout.Valery Khristoforov/TASS
Prostitutes were also an unmistakable sign of the “wild 90s”
A prostitute in Moscow, 1991Peter Turnley/Getty Images
MORE PHOTOS from the 1990s available here
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