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Fits to measure: designers are working on outfits for officials


To change the garments of officials and deputies is another idea of St. Petersburg Legislative Council’s deputy Vitaliy Milonov. What can replace expensive European suits and accessories – in Dmitriy Runkov’s report


Yuriy Zinchuk, host: The sharp-tongued Lermontov – 200-th birthday of whom we’re celebrating this week – once wrote:

Farewell, unwashed Russia – the land of slaves, the land of masters. And you – blue coats, and you – obedient people

We will not discuss the exposing verve of this poem now. It seems the genius which was Lermontov knew what he was writing about; let’s leave it on his consciousness. Let’s pay attention to one detail though – blue coats. Russia, as the state with hard power hierarchy – or vertical of power, as they say now – has always been known for its special attitude towards uniforms, coats and positions. All this naturally stemmed from the capital of St. Petersburg. Relations between people were often built not on the “clever-dumb” or “good-evil” principle. The suit of an official was valued a lot more – it signified the layer of society which its proprietor was occupying

We all came out of Gogol’s “Shawl”. Oh, there are so many senses open with this phrase – often considered to be created by Dostoyevsky – for those who know St. Petersburg. And not necessarily the historic one, but the modern one too. And these ideas may soon become a reality – a corresponding legislation is in the works. Dmitriy Runkov with the details.

Since long ago, Russian politicians have been used to spend a lot on clothes. But their taste sometimes lets them down. There was even a lecture in the State Duma on what a business suit should look like. How else would you urge state officials not to come to work in mini-skirts and diamonds? 

Vitaliy Milonov wants to dress and comb the officials up with a new legislation. Although, suggested uniforms have not been worked out yet.

Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “Here are a few variants, based on your idea. Which one would you prefer?”

Vitaliy Milonov, deputy of St. Petersburg’s Legislative Council: “This one is closest, historically”

Vitaliy Milonov preferred the uniform of a German admiral. He gave thumbs up to coats of the Preobrazhenskiy Regiment and those of the serving disabled. According to Milonov, what to wear is a peripheral question. If all officials will be dressed as one, like scholars, they will behave accordingly.

Vitaliy Milonov, deputy of St. Petersburg’s Legislative Council: “Deputies and governors go to strip clubs and brothels. Many say that policemen are in uniforms, but they break the law. And everyone knows they are on duty”

Pavel Maior, sales director: “This is Aeroflot stewardess design, which we made. This is Sapsan train assistants design”

Tailors of a St. Petersburg company are responsible for “Aeroflot” stewardesses’ elegancy. Now they’re on a strategic mission – creating hundreds of thousands of uniforms for the Russian Army. If needed, they’re ready to make clothes for an army as big – that of officials.

Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “Would you be able to tailor suits for them of the same quality as, let’s say, Brioni?”

Pavel Maior, sales director: “I think yes”

Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “And would you be able to make a lot of boutique-quality suits for them?”

Pavel Maior, sales director: “Well, right now we make a lot of suits. So yes – I think we’d handle this”

The entire collection of officials suits in the Russian Empire was based on what is now called “military style”. It was created on the basis of army men’s athletic silhouette. Fashion historians are sure – modern day officials will have to work out hard in gyms to try something like that on

Olga Khoroshilova, fashion historian: “Our officials are not used to corsets or tightening underwear. An a coat asks for a certain silhouette. The one you would not fit an average official into”

Even the highest-ranked officials of the Empire could not be lenient about their garments. “The Ranks Table” of Peter the Great turned Russia into the land of suits and coats. Every single one of the 14 classes had a corresponding uniform. It defined the attitude towards the person. Titular councilor, small-ranked official Akakiy Akakiyeivch Bashmachkin from Gogol’s “Shawl” untimely passed away after he had lost this piece of clothing.

Dozens of suits still remain at the “Lenfilm” studios – where half a century ago the “Shawl” movie was filmed. Each uniform of the “Ranks Table” has a modern-day analogy. State councilor would come to work today in a prosecutor’s coat, the lowest rank – college registrar – would dress up as a customs inspector

Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “Here’s how a modern prototype of an official’s uniform would look like. This is a movie variant – from the 19th century looks – its not ready. So a deputy or a head of municipality would have to attach stripes and aglets to it – so that an important man could have been seen from afar”

Depending on such accessories, the address to officials may change too. A hundred years ago, before launching a conversation, one had to choose the right title – judging on the person’s uniform. Your Honor or Your Excellency.

Considering that as of late initiatives of St. Petersburg’s legislators have been more often turning into nationwide norms, the “Your honor, head of municipality” address may become a requirement of law.