Under spy costumes, ‘Black Widow’ tries to adopt post-Soviet style

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When the revolution swept Paris in May 1968, Jany Temime snatched his studies from the University of Paris Nanterre. “I was at the barricades throwing rocks and having so much fun,” she says. “We wanted to fight against the bourgeoisie, we wanted to change the world. After the police beat up the protesting crowds, the students dug cobblestones on the sandy sidewalks and started bombing the cops. In solidarity with the students, more than 10 million workers came out of the biggest general strike France has ever seen. President Charles De Gaulle left the country, before returning to dissolve the National Assembly and call new elections. For many students, life would never be the same. “Without 1968, I would have become a Latin teacher,” says Temime. “My studies were kind of aborted after being so bad on the barricades against the French government. So I had to change. I have become someone else. She went to work for French It, then embarked on costume design. 53 years after his revolution, Temime has created costumes for the Harry Potter series, the James Bond films and, now, Black Widow. “I’m still a person on the left, of course,” she said, “but I won’t throw any more stones. I work for Marvel.

As much as Black Widow provides the superhero backstory for Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, it’s also a film about a group of ex-Soviets, the family of spies Romanoff grew up with, trying to understand and understand make their way through the intricate legacies of their lost homeland. Temime is one of the first wave of western costume designers really trying to understand the unique dreams and styles of post-Soviet people. Her efforts fit into the more fantastical backdrop of a superhero movie than, say, Suzie Harman’s work on Death of Stalin, or at Odile Dicks-Mireaux on Chernobyl, but it is just as thoughtful. Previous generations imagined the Soviet world as a gray, lifeless place. Doctor Zhivago shows opulent pre-revolutionary Imperial Russia where the walls of each apartment appear to have been borrowed from a Romanov palace. Then the Revolution occurs and somehow all the finely designed walls are immediately dilapidated. Suddenly the whole screen is gray.

Rachel Weisz in Black Widow.

Courtesy of Disney +

“Soviet society was a do-it-yourself society,” says Iuliia Papushina, an associate professor at the Graduate School of Economics in Perm, Russia, who studies the history of Soviet fashion and faces on most of the clothing in the films. Americans of the Cold War. located in the Soviet Union. There were clothes available in the stores and a massive centralized fashion system was supposed to design them, but in practice not many of the thousands of models they produced each year went into production. Bosses of garment factories tended to favor easier cuts and cheaper fabrics to ensure they met production quotas. The government was well aware that people needed skills to modify these low-quality mass-produced clothes. “I used to have classes at the school where we learned to sew,” says Olga Gurova, associate professor at Aalborg University in Denmark who grew up in Siberia and studies the fashion system. Soviet. “Soviet culture was about how to create something, decorate it, make it personal, personalize it, make it a little more unique,” ​​she says. “There were a lot of tactics. people have tried to make themselves a little more fashionable. Soviet fashion magazines regularly printed knitting patterns so that readers could reuse the yarn from their old-fashioned knits to create something new and cool.

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But when the Soviet Union collapsed, its centralized fashion system also collapsed. “New magazines have appeared, such as Cosmopolitan, which portrays a brilliant life, “says Gurova,” but life was not brilliant in real time. “As serial Turkish and Chinese clothing flooded the Russian market, former Soviet citizens had to reconfigure their relationship to clothing “People got used to the idea that clothes that come from abroad are of better quality. It was a paradigm in the heads of the Soviet people,” Gurova says. “It collapsed when people were faced with the fact that these clothes would fall apart immediately. ”Temime saw the character of Rachel Weisz – the matriarch of the family of spies who was herself raised in a Soviet spy school – as a real Soviet person who survived her country. The way she dressed Weisz was loosely inspired by a look in The Chinese, Jean-Luc Godard’s Maoist exploration of 60s student politics. Godard was not the only influence on how Temime dressed the character for his semi-retired life, with psychological conditioning work of pigs. . “I was thinking of one of the first working posters of the Russian Revolution,” she says. “[Weisz’s character] She was someone who believed – you could feel it in her eyes, in the way she was, in the way she dressed – she really believed in ideology. She grew up thinking that she had to save the Soviet Union. Then the Soviet Union was gone and it had to find a way to stay afloat without its ideals to guide it.

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