The paper dwells on the issue of a female image formation in fashion discourse during two transformative periods of sociocultural development of Soviet and Russian society in the beginnings of the XX and XXI centuries. The first period is connected with the turning point in fashion, caused by the changes in the state regime. Fashion magazines almost disappeared after the 1917 Revolution in Russia and were substituted by new feminine press. The second period also demonstrates cardinal changes in the sphere of fashion. Now they are caused by the development of transport infrastructure, science, computer and information technologies, and international contacts intensification, which together lead to the pace of life acceleration and cannot but influence a woman image in fashion discourse. To study the peculiarities of a woman image formation in the fashion discourse of the named periods, we have analyzed Soviet feminine magazines of the 1920s and modern fashion blogs. The allocated discourse characteristics give ground to conclude that during both periods the woman image was characterized by such traits as independence and freedom. However, in the feminine magazines, this image was constructed with an idea to perform a typical Soviet woman, which is made in the fashion discourse in an argumentative and instructive way. In the case of modern fashion blogs, on the contrary, no argumentation is provided, and the woman image is constructed with the use of English loanwords that introduce to Russian a wide range of synonyms that make a woman image mosaic and split.
Keywords: Anglicismsfemale imagefashion discourse
The study of fashion phenomena is related to relevant research directions. Understanding fashion as a phenomena of mass culture is concerned to many sociological and philosophical studies. For example, researches conducted by Simmel (1996), Bourdieu (1993), Barthes (1983), Baudrillard (1984), Blumer (1969), Veblen (1899) etc. These studies raise the questions about the nature of fashion and its social functions, sources of appearance of fashion and its patterns of diffusion.
In relation to our research, we used the definition of fashion proposed by
The notion of fashion has multiple definitions and senses. According to Blumer (1969), sociologists are disposed to identify fashion exclusively or primarily with the area of costume and adornment. Yet, to a discerning eye fashion is readily seen to operate diverse areas of human group life, especially so in modern times (p. 275). H. Blumer is giving examples of fashion presence in applied arts, such as painting, dancing, architecture, sculpture, drama etc. It is also observable in the field of literature, philosophy, politics, business management and industry. Blumer underlines the importance of fashion and defines it as power, authorizing actions. In other words, fashion can be analyzed as a mirror of an epoch, reflecting the appearance of the modern man with his professional and social needs.
The changings in social and professional structures have a strong impact on development of fashion historically proven. The history of appearance of fashion phenomena is related to the Middle Ages in Western Europe. From the beginning, fashion is determined as the custom of dress. For many ages, clothing was an indicator of social distinction. Right up until the XX century, the selection of the model and orientation of the costume remains to the choice of the elite. In the wide social sense, fashion appears in European society in the XIX century, when fashion is developing as a phenomenon of national culture and gradually transforms in industry of producing the goods of mass consumption. According to Baudrillard (1984), modern fashion is no more an indicator of social distinction as there is a destruction between fashion signs and their referents: “There is no more inner determination in fashion signs that is why they find freedom of unlimited substitution and transposition” (p. 169).
Nowadays fashion is primarily oriented on society's needs. Baudrillard (1984), in his essay
On the one hand, changes in fashion reflect the changes in society. On the other hand, fashion is subject to society. Thus, in every country (every national society) fashion has its own route of self-development and of social mirroring. Fashion is never alone: it is always connected with such factors as policy, culture, science, economy, which influence its formation and the society image formation, now mainly the image of a woman.
In Russia, the influence of policy on fashion and consequently on the image of a woman is the most sounding in the beginning of the XX century. The image of a woman formation in fashion discourse was literally controlled by the government by highlighting what is allowed and what is not allowed to the Soviet woman.
The 1920s in Russia refer to transformation in fashion field related to changes in government system and establishment of the Soviet Union. After the revolution in 1917, the majority of fashion magazines were closed for issuelessness. Fashion magazines mostly disappeared and instead of them feminine soviet press get to develop. The difference of such press from the former fashion magazine is that the new press did not publish article on fashion as it is or very rarely. The most popular magazines were
A very different situation is typical for the modern Russian society with new information technologies, wide international connections and open borders, which influence the image of a woman formation in up-to-date fashion discourse. With internet and modern information technologies, everyone can be the creator of his own image and, as a consequence, the creator of the discourse. In the sphere of modern fashion, it is exactly like this. Blogs are playing active role in popularization of fashion and its authors are presenting to us the accessible and relevant novelties. On Evsyukova and Germasheva’s (2015) opinion, “bloggers influent actively on our lives, because lots of those internet users developing their own websites are associated with absence of prejudice, they can influence on their audience even more than advertisement from mass media” (p. 235). With the spread of fashion blogs, the discourse of fashion split into the one of magazines and the one of blogs, and in the last one, the image of a woman is represented as a self-made and independent one, the image that is free of political, ideological and public opinion influence.
In view of the changes occurred as a result of ideology, society, scientific and technological progress, we find interesting to explore the feminine image in fashion discourse from a linguistic point of view in specified periods.
In modern linguistics, the question of exploring fashion and fashion discourse is relevant. According to Barthes (1983), “as fashion comes to written communication, it becomes a cultural object with a specific structure and goals” (p. 310). Barthes (1983) calls fashion magazines as “machines of production of fashion” (p. 50). It is true, that due to massive appearance of fashion magazines, fashion enters in deep interaction with language, where the language fixes on denotation and connotation level the great number of senses, makes more lucid and demonstrative the semantic structure of fashion. The magazines have big power, because they serve as an instrument of diffusion of fashion among the large audience.
At the present time the internet is playing the crucial role in diffusion of information (internet editions, online channels etc.) and any recipient of information could become its author (blogs and video blogs, social networks and forums). The rapid advance of information technologies caused the development of different way of conception of fashion from consumer’s point of view. Consumer can be an author of texts or video on internet platform. Fashion “became closer” to its addressee, because the information we receive about fashion may come not only from expensive fashion magazines, but also from internet users, same consumers of fashion industry.
Therefore, we can point to complex interrelation relations between the structure of discourse and social structure where discourse is bound to be affected by various factors: social, cultural, economic, political.
In our research, we are focused on the problem of the feminine image formation in fashion discourse in two periods: the 1920s representing a transformative period of creation of the Soviet Union in Russia, and the beginning of XXI century, related as a period to information technologies and scientific advancement and to the development of intercultural relations.
According to our hypothesis, the fashion discourse of 20-ss should be of an argumentative and instructive type, as it is subject to the ideology of the Soviet Union, and the feminine image should be described as a portrait of a typical Soviet woman. The fashion discourse of nowadays, on the contrary, is expected to be (more) free of argumentations and instructions, though less precise should be the image of a modern woman.
The main research questions are listed below.
How is the female image represented in fashion discourse in Soviet feminine magazines in 1920s?
How is the female image represented in fashion discourse in modern Russian fashion blogs?
What are the sociocultural factors influencing the construction of the image of woman in fashion discourse within the set time periods?
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of our study is to explore linguistic peculiarities of the discursive construction of the female image in fashion discourse in the 1920s and the beginning of the XXI century and its impact on social changes over those periods. The main objectives of the study are the following.
To explore Soviet feminine magazines of the 1920s.
To explore modern fashion blogs.
To find out language markers forming the feminine image in 1920s and at the beginning of the XXI century.
To find out similarities and differences between female images in 1920s and at the beginning of the XXI century in the fashion discourses.
To assort the sources of the research material, we were using the thematic sampling method – all texts to be analyzed should be on fashion. To collect the research material we were mainly conducted by continuous sampling method. During the material analysis, we were using a discourse analysis, the method of semantic interpretation and component analysis.
Women’s magazines: material description
To study a woman image formation in fashion discourse of 1920s, we used seven Soviet women magazines given in Table
By continuous sampling method, we have chosen 3000 magazines (very rare primary source items not accessible for digitalizing, can be accessed in the archives of The Russian State Library in Moscow) from Periodicals Archive (from XVIII century to 2009) of Russian National State Library in Moscow (the largest library in Russia, the second largest library in the world, founded in 1862). To assort the articles to be further analyzed, we were using thematic sampling method – all articles from the magazines should be on fashion and modern dressing. Thus, the final sample consists of 46 articles.
The results of the fashion discourse analysis on the materials of Soviet women magazines is drawn in 6.1. subsection.
Fashion blogs: material description
To study the peculiarities of a woman image formation in modern Russian fashion discourse, we have taken blogs on fashion and style from “Life Journal” (Life Journal, 2014-2018) blog platform. By continuous sampling method, we have chosen three blogs on fashion in clothes, which were the first in the feed of “Life Style” section (
Thus, we have sampled 280 blog articles. Table
The choice of blogs to be analyzed is motivated by intention to study the modern Russian language fashion discourse that is why the main period of sample is limited to 2014-2018. The third blog sample does not include 2014 because it was started only in spring 2015.
The results of the fashion discourse analysis on the materials of blogs is drawn in 6.2. subsection.
Fashion discourse of Soviet magazines
As a result of research of fashion articles published in feminine press in 1920s, we pointed out several subjective modalities in fashion discourse serving to determine the image of women in analyzed epoch. Subjective modalities in our research are expressed by introductory modal words, classified in four groups.
1. Modal introductory word expressing
In this example subjective modality is expressed by introductory word «finally» indicating the future social transformation. The connection between society and new aesthetic requirements is underlined, in other words the ideological need of a new of social hygiene is approved.
2. Introductory modal word expressing
russ. [Francuzskije kabluki osobenno vredny dlja berememmyh zhenshin. Krome togo, na takih kablukah ochen’ legko upast’, shto,
In this case subjective modality is expressed by introductory word «certainly», used to underline author’s conviction about what he is saying. By pointing out his certainty about the harm of french heels, author is expressing his negative attitude to the previous period of the bourgeois fashion in Russia before the revolution of 1917.
In this example the discursive marker of subjective modality “certainly” has the significance of author’s conviction that every reader should be agree about the importance of being clean and tidy concerning human’s appearance.
3. Introductory modal word expressing emotional evaluation:
The example indicates the regret about women trying to attract men just by toiletries. The source of this regret leads to soviet ideology encouraging women to be equal to men in behavior and clothing.
The marker “unfornately” expresses negative attitude to cosmetics. In the context of promotion of hygiene in 1920s, this example demonstrates that cosmetics are negatively seen in soviet society, because they don’t provide any health benefits and serve only to change and to beautify the female look.
4. Introductory modal word expressing «the absence of alternative»; introductory words «therefore» used for logical structuring of the text:
russ. [Сhtit’ pam’jat’ materi ne prestupno,
In this example the author responds to the reader of
Fashion discourse of Russian blogs
The result of fashion blogs analysis showed that the key markers of the woman image in modern fashion discourse are English loanwords, which both make a special language from the perspective of its style and bring new social and cultural content.
280 analyzed blog texts include 306 English loanwords with the entries of 4968.
These English loanwords are divided into six groups. Hereinafter all English loanwords examples are drawn in Russian with transliteration.
Not fashion discourse English loanwords– 110 units, 734 entries: russ. [instagram, blog, internet, internet-magazin, internet-zhurnal, lajfhak, massmarket, masthjev etc.] – eng. ( Instagram, blog, internet, internet-shop, internet-journal, life hack, mass-market, must haveetc.). Brands derivatives: names of clothes and accessories– 10 units, 86 entries: russ. [kedy, konversy, martensy, n'jubjelansy, timberlendy, fitbit etc.] – eng. ( Keds, Converse, Dr. Martens, New Balance, Timberland, Fitbitetc.). Handles and materials names– 13 units, 106 entries: russ. [denim, dzhersi, kapron, plastik, polijester, tvid, hlollofajber etc.] – eng. ( denim, jersey, plastic, polyester, tweed, hollow fiberetc.). Cuts and styles names and their derivatives– 33 units, 370 entries: russ. [arthaus, boho, kejp, kjezhual, militari, preppi, stritstajl, hippi etc.] – eng. ( art house, boohoo, cape, casual, military, preppy, street style, hippyetc.). Old English loanwords– 69 units, 2119 entries: russ. [bejsbolka, bodi, glamur, dzhemper, dzhinsy, dizajn, imidzh, kovboj (style), legginsy, ljureks, pizhama, pulover, sviter, futbolka, haki, shorty etc.] – eng. ( baseball cap, body, glamour, jumper, jeans, design, image, cowboy(style) , leggings, lurex, pajamas, pullover, sweater, football, khaki, shortsetc.). Modern English loanwords– 71 units, 1553 entries; russ. [aviatory (glasses), autfit, blejzer, bojfrendy (type of jeans), brogi, dafflkot, krossbodi, lofery, njud, oversajz, svitshot, flatforma etc.] – eng. ( aviators(glasses), outfit, blazer, boyfriend(type of jeans), brogues, duffle coat, cross-body, loafers, nude, oversize, sweatshirt, flat formetc.].
The percentage rating of the above-enumerated groups is drawn in the diagram below (Figure
As we can see, the majority of Anglicisms are in the category of old loanwords; however, the part of the modern one is big as well and make 31% from the English loanwords tot. In the category of modern loanwords, we included the Anglicisms which entries into the [Russian National Corpus] is zero or nears zero. The high frequency of these words in the fashion blogs demonstrates their active usage in the modern Russian language and their importance in the contemporary fashion discourse construction and, consequently, in the construction of a modern woman image.
English loanwords contribute to make a modern woman image as an independent, active and strong one. This is witnessed with loanwords – names of shoes, clothes and accessories of a woman. By origin, many Anglicisms were used in English as the names of men clothing units. Their appearance in women clothing shows that a women image becomes closer to a man one, as well as feminine social functions. There are 18 lexical units (408 entries) of this type: russ. [aviatory, bitlovka, blejzer, dzhinsy-bojfreny/bojfrendy, bomber, brogi, dafflkot, derbi, lofery, oksfordy, svitshot, slipery, slipony, trench (also trenchkot), hantery, chelsi, chinos]
Loaning of words marking the units of feminine clothing takes place as well, though their quantity is half less – 9 lexical units (95 entries): russ. [boks (bag), bra, kittenhily (type of heel shoes), krossbodi, ruana, tout (bag), flatforma, choker, shoper] – eng. (
English loanwords develop the idea of freedom and naturalness in a feminine image drawn in the modern internet fashion discourse. This is confirmed by such Anglicisms as [oversajz, dzhinsy-bojfrendy, krop-top, svitshot, hudi, slipony, slippery, loufery].
[Oversajz] clothes are the clothes of a free cut, the cut bigger than a standard size, which make the clothes look bigger. Oversize clothes are made for a person feel no tightness in movements. [Dzhinsy-bojfrendy] are feminine jeans of a male cut that make them loose for a woman. [Krop-top] is any unit of top clothes halfway cut to show a line of naked skin. [Krop-tops] might be tight and loose, but their main character is their short cut, which make them show a part of naked body and leave less contact of the tissue with the skin.
Such shoes as [slipony, slippery, loufery] by their etymology show a relaxed style. The word [slipony] comes from an English
The key word of the modern internet fashion discourse is [kjezhual] – eng.
Another important character of the modern fashion discourse that goes along with English loanwords is the increase of synonyms and, therefore, increase of a choice for a woman in making her image. For example, the words [brogi, derbi, oksfordy] (
An interesting situation is viewed with the names of sport shoes that come from the brands names: [kedy, konversy, n'jubjelansy] – eng.
This lexical pluralization, demonstrated on the examples of shoes and clothes, and typical for the modern fashion discourse, does not find argumentation in the analyzed blogs texts: bloggers do not explain why a woman should put on this and should not put on that. The idea of the fashion blogs can be described in the phrase “chose and put on to be beautiful and feel comfortable”. This confirms our primary hypothesis about less structural organization of modern fashion blogs, and this leads us to the idea of a mosaic woman image formation, when a woman has a wide choice to combine various clothes and shoes and change her image by changing a part or a piece of her dressing.
Fashion discourse of 1920s
In Soviet press of 1920s the introductory modal words, expressing author’s certainty about reported are the most represented. The study of subjective modality allows to see, how the ideologization, typical for soviet discourse, experienced by social spheres of the country, is manifested by the category of subjective modality. The subjective modality represented by introductory words expresses directivity and obligation in an argumentative way, pushing women to establish new fashion and hygiene, according to its new feminine difference from bourgeois period before the Revolution in 1917. In the terms of logic we can speak about the subjective modality of necessity, underlining the author’s subjective certainty about communicated.
Fashion discourse of the beginning of XXI century
By contrast with the fashion discourse of the 1920s Soviet press, the modern internet fashion discourse demonstrates the woman image as a free an independent one: a woman does not have to wear to represent a typical woman of a nation, a woman wear to represent herself. This is testified by the presence of English loanwords and their wide entries in the fashion discourse. However, this independence in the woman image formation goes along with the weakening of its precision: there is no a typical Russian woman, and there is no the woman. There is a woman who can change her identity by changing her dressing, which is lexically very broaden and various.
The publication has been prepared with the support of the “RUDN University Program 5–100”. In addition, we wish to thank Svetlana Moskvitcheva, professor of Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia and our scientific advisor, who encouraged us to publish the article.
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14 July 2019
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Psychology, educational psychology, counseling psychology
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Politova, E., & Alyunina*, Y. (2019). Feminine Image In Fashion Discourse: Soviet Magazines of 1920s and Russian Blogs. In T. Martsinkovskaya, & V. R. Orestova (Eds.), Psychology of Subculture: Phenomenology and Contemporary Tendencies of Development, vol 64. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 64-75). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2019.07.9