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Why the profession of fashion models in the USSR was not prestigious, and the husbands of beauties from the catwalks hid who their wives work
Why the profession of fashion models in the USSR was not prestigious, and the husbands of beauties from the catwalks hid who their wives work

I wonder how priorities change over time. If today almost every second girl dreams of becoming a model, then in the Soviet Union the profession of fashion models was considered one of the most disgraceful. And even in the comedy "The Diamond Hand" for the character of Andrei Mironov, it was no coincidence that the image of a guy walking on the catwalk was chosen - this is how the filmmakers wanted to once again emphasize the moral fall of the hero. So why were the demonstrators of clothing (and this is how the representatives of this profession were called then) were so disdainful?

Model House on Kuznetsky Most

Show in the House of Models

In 1944, when the USSR was already on the way to victory, life in the country began to gradually improve. At the same time, the All-Union House of Fashion Models was opened on Kuznetsky Most. His first star was Valentina Yashina, who got a job as a fashion model after she was left alone with a child in her arms. The girl managed to win the hearts of many high-ranking men, including those abroad, and go on the podium right up to the age of 65. But this model, rather, became an exception to the rule.

After all, it was not customary to call those who worked in the Model House by their names. Although it was here that the then unknown Vyacheslav Zaitsev, Vera Aralova and Alexander Igmand began their career. Although it was not customary to name the creators of the collections at that time, everything that was demonstrated was considered the result of collective work.

Soviet fashion models

However, despite the fact that clothing patterns were created in the forge of fashion, shows were held and new models were sewn, ordinary people could not afford such collections, because they were most often intended for the Soviet elite. They say that Leonid Brezhnev dressed only at Alexander Igmand's. He also sewed elegant costumes for the main person in Soviet culture - Ekaterina Furtseva.

Surprisingly, it was the Model House that foreigners considered almost the main attraction of the capital. By the way, it was possible to get to the show by paying 5 rubles. For foreign guests, this amount was ridiculous, for Soviet citizens - a lot. It is not surprising that soon the "hot" place was overgrown with rumors and speculation.

Low-grade workers

The profession of fashion models was not held in high esteem

But most of all, probably, it was insulting to the models themselves. However, such a profession did not exist then, and the record “clothing demonstrator” was listed in the work book. Girls parading on the podium received wages on a par with workers of the lowest category - about 70 rubles. However, for shooting for magazines, one could get 100 rubles, but in the USSR, for a long time, publications preferred drawn models. Therefore, can you imagine what kind of competition there was between girls who wanted to decorate the covers of the Soviet gloss?

For a long time, Soviet fashion magazines preferred hand-drawn models

It turns out that, in fact, the only occupation of the clothing demonstrators was walking on the catwalk. Moreover, they demonstrated not exclusive things, but those that were to be produced in large quantities.Girls defiled themselves in underwear, but at closed shows intended for workers of garment factories. Since the models showed clothes for "ordinary" women, then the notorious 90-60-90 was not there. Therefore, the size range of models varied from 44 to 48 sizes. There was no age limit either. As we already wrote above, Valya Yashina took to the podium right up to 65 years old, and the average age of her colleagues was 30-40 years old.

The clothing demonstrators worked up to 10 hours a day, but they were not paid overtime. The entry in the work book was also listed, so the seniority was on, but the models did not have trade unions and other associations that had "normal" organizations.

However, despite the fact that the girls presented clothes for the elite on the podium, they could not buy even the simplest exhibits - the salary did not allow. And then there was no tradition of giving clothes to models. And even during foreign shows, fashion models were strictly forbidden to accept any gifts. If it was not possible to refuse the presentation, then it was necessary to hand it over to the curators. The only thing that Soviet models could keep for themselves was cosmetics.

So why were clothing demonstrators not held in high esteem?

Nikita Mikhalkov with his wife Tatyana

The people did not like fashion models and contemptuously called them "hangers". In the opinion of Soviet citizens, women showing an increased interest in fashion were licentious people with low social responsibility. After all, what should a resident of the USSR do? That's right, to work, and not to walk back and forth in beautiful clothes. This idea was supported by the magazine "Rabotnitsa", which periodically published accusatory essays on clothing demonstrators. Therefore, it is not surprising that the husbands of the models tried to hide who their wives actually worked.

And even the famous Nikita Mikhalkov, whose wife Tatyana walked the catwalk before marriage, said for a long time that his chosen one was a translator.

READ ALSO: Why Nikita Mikhalkov did not talk about his wife's first profession

The increased interest in the House of Models from foreign guests was also criticized. They gladly went to shows and could even take care of the girls they liked. However, the KGB monitored Soviet models almost around the clock, and during foreign trips they were not even allowed to go outside.

Leka Mironova paid for her obstinacy with a career

However, high-ranking Soviet officials were not averse to spending time with beautiful fashion models. The latter had to either meet with them (if you were lucky, you could acquire a permanent patron), or sacrifice a career. So, one of the successful models of that time, Leka Mironova, said that once she was brought to one of the party bosses in order to arrange a Playboy-style photo session.

READ ALSO: Harassment in the USSR: What model Leka Mironova paid for refusing escort services and nude filming for the Central Committee

The girl refused to participate, staged a pogrom and fled. Naturally, after that, the model ended up in all sorts of "black lists" and found herself out of work. In addition, she was considered "restricted to travel abroad" because of her noble roots.

The dramatic fate of Soviet fashion models

Valentina Yashina

Despite popular love and total control by the authorities, some models managed to make successful careers. True, most of them paid too much for their success.

Despite the fact that Valentina Yashina, as we already wrote, finished her modeling career only at the age of 65, it is difficult to call the last years of her life happy. Despite the fact that she inherited a large inheritance from her husband, she died in poverty and loneliness. According to the most widespread version, one of the first fashion models of the Soviet Union was left with nothing by her son and grandson. She spent her last days at the dacha, where she was forced to live without an apartment. According to the official version, death came from a heart attack.But close women are sure that her relatives had a hand in her death.


The fate of Regina Zbarskaya turned out to be no less dramatic. There were many dark spots in the biography of the “Soviet Sophia Loren”: after all, the fact that she spoke fluently in three foreign languages ​​and traveled abroad alone, unaccompanied, aroused suspicion even then. It was said that she worked for the KGB, but there is still no evidence of this.

READ ALSO: From all-Union glory to suicide: the tragic fate of the "Soviet Sophia Loren" fashion model Regina Zbarskaya

The first husband of the model, artist Lev Zbarskoy, emigrated from the country, leaving her. And the affair with the Yugoslav journalist turned into an international scandal: the man wrote the book "100 Nights with Regina Zbarskaya", where he described erotic scenes and claimed that she worked for Soviet intelligence. The former star was treated in a mental hospital, made several suicide attempts and returned to the Model House only as a cleaning lady. In 1987, Regina drank a large dose of sleeping pills - this time it was not possible to save her.

The very scandalous photo session of Galina Milovskaya

Galina Milovskaya became the first Soviet fashion model to appear for the famous Vogue. But the photographs where the girl posed against the background of the Kremlin raised many questions from the Soviet leadership: the model in trousers sat in an obscene pose with her back to the symbol of the country. Galya fell out of favor, having lost her job. In the early 70s, she emigrated from the country, settled in America, at first worked by profession, but then changed her occupation, becoming a documentary filmmaker.

And in the continuation of the topic, a story about why one of the most successful fashion models of the 1960s. had to leave the USSR.

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