Faculty Publication - Empire's New Clothes: A History of the Russian Fashion Industry, 1700-1917

By Dr. Christine Ruane

TheEmpiresNewClothesProfessor Christine Ruane’s new book, The Empire’s New Clothes: A History of the Russian Fashion Industry, 1700-1917  has just been published by Yale University Press. This monograph tells the story of the Russian revolution in dress. In 1701 Tsar Peter the Great decreed that Muscovites should abandon their traditional garments and replace them with European fashions. With the help of Western European entrepreneurs, technologies, and business practices, the Russians built a fashion industry. Using memoirs, mail-order catalogues, fashion magazines, and archival documents, Ruane demonstrates that Russia’s adoption of western fashion had symbolic, political, and social ramifications and was inseparably linked to the development of capitalism and new forms of communication. This book shows how the fashion industry became a forum through which Russians debated and formulated a new national identity.