Skip to main content
padlock icon - secure page this page is secure

‘Retaining their bestial character’: Fashion, fear of degeneration and animal protection in late imperial Russia

Buy Article:

$14.00 + tax (Refund Policy)

This article examines the possible roots of the change in cultural attitudes, due to which fashionable objects of animal origin started to be viewed negatively in Russian fashion periodicals and advice manuals of the early twentieth century. Among these influences, we may count the development of the animal protection movement, with the Russian Society for the Protection of Animals established in 1865. Although initially this association was not concerned with fashion, it shaped the notion of the cruel treatment of animals, drawing public attention to this issue. An analysis of non-fiction writing by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Vikentii Veresaev will show that, while the Society’s agenda was ambiguous and met with a mixed response, the new sensibilities this group promoted were increasingly internalized by the educated public.

On the other hand, fashion criticism during the era argued that fashion distorts and deforms human shape by giving it animal features – that is, it assists degeneration. A reversal of evolution, in this case triggered by brutality, was similarly evoked by the proponents of animal protection. The newly perceived inappropriateness of certain fashionable objects was thus due to the double ‘animality’ they were believed to impart to the wearer: that of following the ‘fashion instinct’ and that of being complicit in violence.
No Reference information available - sign in for access.
No Citation information available - sign in for access.
No Supplementary Data.
No Article Media
No Metrics

Keywords: animal protection; discourse of degeneration; evolutionary theory; fashion criticism; fashion items of animal origin

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Russian State University for the Humanities and Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration

Publication date: December 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • We all wear clothes. We are all therefore invested at some level in the production and consumption of clothing. This journal intends to embrace issues and themes that are both universal and personal, addressing [and dressing] us all. Increasingly, as we all become accomplished semioticians, clothing becomes the key signifier in determining social interaction and behaviour, and sartorial norms dictate socio-cultural appropriateness. Following the rise of fashion theory, on an everyday level, we all understand that our clothes 'say' something about us, about our times, nation, system of values. Yet clothing is not fashion; clothing is a term derivative from 'cloth', to cover the body, whereas fashion alludes to the glamorous, the ephemeral and the avant garde. We wear clothes, but imagine fashion-an unattainable ideal.
  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Intellect Books page
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more