Traditional Ukrainian Costume in the context of National Liberation and Soviet Occupation in 1920s

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Myroslav Melnyk


Introduction. During the years when Ukraine was under the rule of empires, Ukrainians have a necessity of self-determination and its visual presentation. To wear traditional costume has been a symbolic ostensible patriotism. When the domestic fashion design was settled, the Ukrainian traditional costume has become an important source of inspiration.

The purpose of the article is to determine the main elements of traditional Ukrainian costume, which served to underscore the patriotic beliefs of Ukrainians in the early twentieth century and to analyze these recognizable elements in the context of fashion design.

Results. At the end of nineteenth – beginning of the twentieth centuries Ukraine was not political, but rather cultural community. Ukrainians wanted to develop their unique nation. This national aspiration found its specific manifestation in the field of costume: vyshyvanka (white embroidered shirt), kraika (sash), svyta (outerwear), kersetka (woman’s vest), plakhta (festive panel skirt), zapaska (apron), korali (bead  necklace) provide Ukrainian style to the costume as the sign of patriotic feelings. The problem of transforming centuries-old handicraft traditions into the design and industrial mass production of modern costumes during the 1910 – 1920s has been solved by Alexandra Ekster, Yevgenia Pribylska, Hanna Sobachko-Shostak and other designers and artists of applied arts. Their creations based on Ukrainian traditions and at the same time modern ideas and techniques. The official perception of Ukrainian traditional culture in the early ears of Soviet Union was complex and controversial, but design findings of Ukrainian creators were in demand both in Moscow and abroad. They found the principles of a harmonious combination of European fashion with national features, which can be used in today’s fashion design.

After Joseph Stalin put his First Five Year Plan in 1928, the Soviet government began to criticize and censor folklore and its further development gave rise of kitsch, when traditional Ukrainian culture developed in the context of the country's isolation from contemporary art processes, as a part of “Big Russia”. The works of decorative and applied art were ornamented with patterns of “sickles and hammers”, Communist slogans or portraits of Soviet leaders.

Originality of the research is that the Ukrainian costume and its iconic elements are considered in the context of national self-determination and modernization of life.

Conclusion. Analyzing the traditional Ukrainian costume and its’ elements in the context of 1920s shows that it was important way of expressing the national identity. The creation of a modern costume based on traditional elements was harmonious and successful when fashion trends were taken into account. Political ideologization of traditions turns them into kitsch.

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