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Posted on February 21, 2013 by Marco Maggetto

Some decades ago, there was a wall separating a city in the middle of Europe. Sounds weird and far to new generations but The German Democratic Republic , or simply East Germany, was a state within the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War period. From 1949 to 1990  this small region was occupied by Soviets. Isolated from the rest of Europe that was living the opulence of the 70ies and 80ies, East Germany lived in a “cage” where police was suppressing every popular uprising and where its inhabitants were not permitted to leave their country or travel anywhere in the west bloc. The economy  was centrally planned and state owned, and as a consequence of that, this small country was living a life by itself. And what about fashion? European teenagers where exploding into “La Boum”  buying jeans and sneakers, bleaching their hair and dancing the most pop of the music the world had ever heard while East German teenagers had to deal with a kind of clothing that was functional, practical and uniformly standardizes. But clearly, the wind of fashion doesn’t stop in front of  borders and some East German citizens, inspired by youth movements as Punk and New Wave, started sewing their own clothes creating extravagant outfits that were a form of rebellion, a way to challenge the establishment, a way of feeling the freedom they never had. Ein Traum in Erdbeerfolie (Comrade Couture) translated “A Dream In Strawberry Foil”, because designers and stylists used the most disparate poor materials for their creations from the plastic employed by farmers to cover strawberry fields to hospital bags used to hold organs, is a small film by director Marco Wilms which is a gem of wisdom I feel to recommend. The story of this groups of creatives often labeled as “potential enemies of the state” because of their individualism  is narrated through the interviews and archive material from the early 80s.  A touching hymn to liberty, a treasure that raises  fashion to a level of importance, social aggregation and connotation of a group, rarely seen before. Comrade Couture is a must seen.

Below: Playbill and moments from late 80ies East German alternative Fahion.


comrade couture

comrade couture