Thu, 26 Nov 2020

Russian men of the 20th century

07 Oct 2020, 20:54 GMT+10

History Oct 07 2020 Alexandra Guzeva

Kunstkamera; Alexander Polyakov/Sputnik Russia experienced tremendous upheavals in the last century - no fewer than three systems and states came and went. This couldn't fail to affect how people looked and dressed.

Before the revolution, when there was huge class diversity in Russia, men's appearance varied enormously. Peasants, merchants, nobles, soldiers - here's how they all looked in the last years of the Russian Empire:

Portrait of an elderly man in a white hat, Nizhny Novgorod, 1900s

I. Ivanov/МАММ/МDF/

Portrait of four men from Saratov Province, 1900s

Unknown author/МАММ/МDF/

Non-commissioned officer of the Preobrazhensky Life Guards Regiment A.N. Sinyavin

Photo from the archive of Igor Cheradionov/

Nizhny Novgorod merchant Sergeev, 1900s

Maxim Dmitriev/Audiovisual documentation archive of Nizhny Novgorod Region

Peasant from Chernigov Province (now Ukraine), 1900s


Grand Duke Konstantin Romanov, 1903

St Petersburg State Museum of Theater and Musical Art/

With the coming of Soviet power, nobles were stripped of their titles and fortunes. Then came the devastating Civil War and the Red Terror, followed by the short-lived New Economic Policy and relative freedom. During this time, there were lots of military men everywhere (in tunics without shoulder straps, since titles had been scrapped), as well as fancily dressed creatives.

Kuban Cossacks, 1927

Unknown author/МАММ/МDF/

Leading Silver Age poet Alexander Blok

Moisey Nappelbaum/МАММ/МDF/

Red commander Ivan Kashirin (left) and Komsomol member Alexei Pavlov, 1920s

State Historical Museum of the Southern Urals/

Film director and maker of Battleship Potemkin Sergei Eisenstein, 1920s

Andre Kertes/Russian State Archive of Literature and Art/

Portrait of a fisherman, 1925

Mikhail Smodor/Kostromskaya Starina/

Driver at the Leningrad Fire Department

Unknown author/МАММ/МDF/

When Stalin came to power, collectivization and industrialization quickly gathered momentum, as did the Gulag camp system, one of the most tragic episodes in Soviet history. Photographers were sent to large Soviet construction sites to chronicle the "idyllic" lives of workers and collective farmers.

Iconic Soviet photographer Alexander Rodchenko at the White Sea Canal construction site, 1933

Anatoly Skurikhin/МАММ/МDF/

Donbass miner, 1934

Evgeny Khaldey/МАММ/МDF/

Athlete, 1934

Alexander Ustinov/Archive of Ninel Ustinova/

Test pilot Vladimir Kokkinaki before his next flight, 1930s

Ivan Shagin/МАММ/МDF/

Poet David Samoilov added the epithet rokovyie ("fatal") to the word sorokoviye ("forties"), since in Russian they differ by just one syllable. It was a time of war, ongoing purges, hunger, evacuations, and inhuman living conditions. As for menswear, it consisted of military uniforms, greatcoats, and quilted jackets.

Radio operators in World War II, 1943

Arkady Shaikhet/МАММ/МDF/

Peasant Daniil Zernov with fellow villagers during WWII, 1943

Arkady Shaikhet/МАММ/МDF/

Submarine commander and Hero of the Soviet Union Valentin Starikov in the conning tower, 1942

Evgeny Khaldey/МАММ/МDF/

Militiaman in Crimea, 1940s

Evgeny Khaldey/МАММ/МDF/

Composer Dmitry Shostakovich, 1940s

Boris Fabisovich/MAMM/MDF/

In the post-war 1950s, life slowly returned to normal; military overcoats were replaced by austere suits. Men returned to civilian professions, including farming the land and exploring far-flung corners of the Soviet Union.

Men, 1950s

Archive of Alina Bashmakova/

Metalworker at the Economizer plant and Stalin Prize winner Ivan Kartashev, 1953

Semyon Fridlyand/MAMM/MDF/

Young construction worker at the Volga-Don Canal, 1953

Alexey Gostev/MAMM/MDF/

Composer Nikolay Ozerov at the wheel of a Pobeda car, 1950s

Sergey Vasin/MAMM/MDF/

All-Union motorcycling competition, 1951

Valentin Khukhlaev/Archive of Valentin Khukhlaev/

The 1960s are invariably associated with the "Khrushchev thaw" after the harsh Stalinist regime: students, samizdat (self-publication of banned literature), smiles, and renewed construction of apartment blocks.

Moscow University students play the game "Guess who?", 1960s

Vsevolod Tarasevich/MAMM/MDF/

By the campfire on a hike, 1960s

Vsevolod Tarasevich/MAMM/MDF/

Two students recite poetry, 1960s

Vsevolod Tarasevich/MAMM/MDF/

Cult 1960s poet Evgeny Yevtushenko

Oleg Mertsedin/MAMM/MDF/

Youth, 1960s

Archive of Olga Shitova-Belova/

The 1970s saw the arrival of trendy fops, bell-bottomed trousers, outlandish hairstyles, as well as cult Soviet films.

Komsomol members, 1976

Photo from the archive of Maria Deryabina/

Cult Soviet actor and sex symbol Andrei Mironov, 1976


Portrait of a man, 1970s

Kaskad Media Holding/

By the sea, 1979

Mikhail Dashevsky/

Today's 40+ generation is nostalgic about the 1980s, because it was their time! The Moscow Olympics, the first taste of freedom, hippies, oversized glasses, rock, and Freddie Mercury mustaches!

"Ejected in the last minute. Handball", 1980

Vladimir Vyatkin/MAMM/MDF/

Artist Guram Abramishvili, 1987

Sergey Rumyantsev/MAMM/MDF/

Moscow, 1987

Igor Mukhin/MAMM/MDF/

Cult rock musician Viktor Tsoi, 1986

Sergey Borisov/MAMM/MDF/

Rockers, 1985

Sergey Borisov/MAMM/MDF/

The 1990s saw perhaps the most radical changes of all: the collapse of the Soviet Union, the birth of a new country, and the opening up to the West. It was a time of snow-washed jeans and bold experiments, including fashion-wise.

First President of Russia Boris Yeltsin on the court, 1992

Dmitry Donskoy/MAMM/MDF/


Alexander Slyusarev/MAMM/MDF/

Pop singer Valery Leontiev, 1992

Yuri Abramochkin/Archive of Yuri Abramochkin

Men at a Moscow swimming pool, 1990s

Getty Images

First Western stereo system, Moscow, 1990s

Getty Images Read more: Russian women of the 20th century

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