Lea Vene: Fashion in Transition - case study magazine Svijet (1990-91), 2020

Fashion in Transition - case study magazine Svijet (1990-91),

Lea Vene


Svijet (World) magazine began publishing in 1953 as a black-and-white magazine with only a cover and a color double in 23,000 copies. From the very beginning, the magazine was conceived primarily for female readers with an emphasis on fashion-related topics. In a sense, the magazine was thematically and visually striving to follow the trends imposed by Vogue at the time. It should be taken into account that the early fifties were a post-war period in which, in addition to the reconstruction of the country, content should be offered that would follow the tendencies of modernization and progress. That period also missed more and more visual content from the west that circulated freely in the fashion media. At the very beginning, important thematic determinants of the magazine were already established: fashion articles, housing culture, cosmetic tips, sewing instructions, cooking. The volume of the magazine soon increased and the domestic fashion scene, designers and domestic fairs were increasingly followed. The turning point for the magazine was 1967, when the circulation rose to 167,000, the number of advertisements increased and the magazine soon started publishing as a biweekly. In the domestic context until the 1990s, Svijet magazine was the central point of fashion representation in the print media. Its European competitiveness was often emphasized, both visually and in terms of content.

Within the project implemented by the Center for Research of Fashion and Clothing  (CIMO), entitled Fashion in the time of transition, the research focus was placed on the period of the early 1990s, more specifically in 1990 and 1991, with an emphasis on a critical view of fashion content. placed in a magazine. The text will highlight some of the important preoccupations of fashion journalists of that period. Special interest is also focused on feminist aspects of the content (texts such as: Time of No Changes and Dressing as Freedom by Slavenka Drakulić, Women of the Nineties by Alemka Lisinski, Feminism - Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow by Vesna Pusić ,...). Magda Weltrusky paved the way for women's fashion journalism in Svijet magazine. She joined the Svijet magazine in 1956 and worked until her retirement in the 1990s. About her beginnings in the magazine, she said: It was a time when fashion shyly, often with the label of "harmful Western influences", paved the way for the media and the market, and Svijet was a true leader of avant-garde tendencies. She traveled to European fairs and fashion shows and reported regularly in the magazine, monitoring the situation in the textile industry and clothing production. At the same time, she edited the Confidential section in which she advised readers. One of the most prominent fashion critics of Svijet magazine in the research period of the 1990s was Ana Lendvaj, who regularly published reviews of fashion shows and wrote about local fashion designers (Keti Balogh), followed fashion fairs (Agram fashion and Intertextil), and published critical reflections on Zagreb. fashion scene (text Year of Fashion Life and Zagreb Fashion). Although she was primarily tied to Večernji list in business, her voice is very dominant in the Svijet, where she often highlighted Ulupuh's clothing design section, supporting an avant-garde approach to fashion design. Apart from Ana Lendvaj, Sanja Muzaferija (especially dedicated to following the modeling context), Vedrana Grisogono, Davorka Grenac and Bojan Mušćet also stand out.

Textile industry vs. art fashion

Writing about fashion in the local text is primarily focused on critical reviews of domestic fashion fairs, and in the period 1990 and 1991 these were Agram Fashion and Intertextil. Ana Lendvaj writes about the crisis of fair presentation of fashion and new clothing trends. For example, Intertekstil sees the problem in the fact that there is no concrete business cooperation between retailers and manufacturers from the textile industry. They insist on a greater presence of the so-called author's fashion offers that can add a new fashion meaning to the fair. The 1991 Intertekstil Awards were given to: Siscia, NIK, Pride, Galeb, MOD-a-GRAM group, Nataša Fashion Studio. This list of winners well outlines the then successful examples from the textile industry, but also examples of authorial fashion (as Ana Lendvaj points out). Intertekstil is more focused on industry and the main organizer is the Zagreb Fair, and on the other hand, Agram Fashion is imposed, behind which stands the Association of Craftsmen of the City of Zagreb. The event was held at the Esplanade Hotel for the 59th time in 1991. Ana Lendvaj recognizes the special catalytic power in the ULUPUH Clothing Design Section. The awards were then taken by: Dvoravić fur, Nada Dimić lingerie, Dixi and Play Time, and all the creators of the ULUPUH clothing design section. Lendvaj fantasizes about the growing influence of concrete capital that would help Zagreb get its own brand, and wishes the metropolisation of the city and its future as a shopping center, whose past still remembers customers with a Vienna - Pest address.

Such somewhat naive capitalist fantasies are indicative of the transition period in which he dreams of a possible fashion future for Zagreb as a relevant place of fashion production and consumption. It seems that the so-called avant-garde or art-fashion (as it is called in the magazine) is perhaps the only one somewhat approaching the trends of the global fashion system of the 1990s. In a special fashion editorial from 1991, No. 3, Tonči Vladislavić writes: Starting from new materials or by exploring the possibilities of form, creators create new, often astonishing forms that are like independent sculptures in space or body installations. True, such fashion and art artifacts are easier to conquer galleries than the street, but their impact on conventional clothing is very significant. Such research has not escaped our fashion spaces, especially in the last ten years. We present some of these authors in this issue, which illustrates the continuity of avant-garde fashion in our country. In this editorial, the following are presented: Nada Kobali, Goran Dasović and Mirjana Risojević, Asmira Salkanović, Lidija Berenik, Davor Klarić, Matea Banoža, Nada Došen, Nenad Roban, Goran Karađole, Jadranka Hlupić and Alan Hranitelj.

Like in the west

The crowd that has been going on for days around the newly opened Benetton store in Zagreb makes realistic the assessment of Ivan Perinović, the director of the department store who opened the store, that RM will generate 200,000 dinars in turnover per day. In addition to earnings, Perinović mentions the desire for the Zagreb market to be supplied as western as the motivation for opening such a store.

Furthermore, the text Zagreb Fashion from 1990 provides an overview of relevant developments in the field of fashion, so special interest is dedicated to newly opened fashion stores that allow domestic audiences to keep up with the mainstream world fashion events. This primarily meant that for some brands customers no longer have to go shopping abroad referring to going to Trieste. However, the shelves of domestic fashion stores are no longer cluttered with tasteless clothes. The offer is profiled, so in the early nineties more and more stores of world companies were opened in Zagreb. Benetton is just one of the unavoidable places for shopping (Stefanel and Naf Naf are also mentioned). The vision of a domestic shopping paradise is complemented by local confection such as Vesna and Kamensko, who are opening a Pierre Cardin store in Teslina Street. Original Cardin models adapted to the tastes of domestic customers are guaranteed.

The fashion editorial entitled Identity Label from 1991 highlights the best from the Benettton, Stefanel and Naf Naf fashion collections with the text: the latest fashion collections are now on sale in Zagreb, adding another European fashion accent to the local offer. A few months earlier, the article Galaxies of All Colors was published, in which the journalist of the Svijet magazine Vedrana Grisogono visits the complex of demonstration shops Benetton near Venice. Delight in the influx of Western fashion is another symptom of the transitional fashion processes of the 1990s. At the same time, reviewing readers' letters, I notice their dissatisfaction with the lack of fashion accessible to a wider audience. For example, a Zenit reader writes: I think it would be more useful for the average reader to write in a fashion article about what is modern and acceptable in everyday life, and not about the fashion fantasies of extravagant designers. J.M says: in the last two issues I liked, after a long time, your fashion accessory. Again we could see the models we can buy from us, in which we can appear on the street or at work. Mirjana begs: I would like to get something practical from you. Just as four regular issues of Wool edition come out a year, you could do the same with a cutting sheet. Jelena notes: We are silent observers of the Svijet magazine, just like Cosmopolitan or Vogue, but not active participants. We cannot buy any of the offered models. Such letters are reminiscent of the gap between fashion consumption and the visual fashion culture that the world strives for interpreted in the wake of similar world fashion magazines and the real situation / education / needs of the domestic fashion audience. Adults out of the possibility to more directly follow the western fashion events of the reader strive for a more utilitarian, everyday and more affordable clothing practice.

New faces

The world of the nineties places great emphasis on competitions for new fashion faces that will enable young girls future successful fashion careers. In almost every issue, the so-called action A new face chosen by twelve finalists, and one selected goes to the prestigious Supermodel of the World competition. The finals were held in Opatija, and the propositions of the competition state: It is clear that girls, in addition to photogenic faces, must also have a beautiful and slender, youthfully supple body, harmonious build and bright smile, safe step and shiny hair. The most beautiful models and photo models in the world are not those of ideal proportions, but those who know how to look into the lens of a camera, who are not ashamed to laugh, who are witty and beautiful inside. The future on the front pages of glamorous magazines awaits just such girls, and the Slavic look can only help them in that. Several texts mention the Slavic beauty and trend of Slavic models, which Sanja Muzaferija writes about in the text Awake East and South. In the text, she analyzes the new needs of the fashion industry for girls from the East and quotes the leaders of the Parisian fashion agency Madison: Now they are looking for Oriental, Black, Slavic and Chinese, women who seem to know an important secret. The exoticization of non-Western models opens the way for the realization of modeling dreams of young girls - a better life and earnings abroad, the covers of fashion magazines and successful campaigns of world brands. It is interesting that the text also mentions the problematic nature of Slavic models:  the owner of the Milan agency Why Not complains: The problem is in their unprofessionalism. They are not disciplined, they are often prone to nostalgia, they are weak nerves, unaccustomed to the steel laws of competition and, worst of all, they do not know foreign languages. Today, it is inconceivable that such a text full of prejudices would appear in the public sphere without criticism, but this attitude makes us aware of the then context for the interpretation, representation and stereotyping of women from Eastern Europe. It is interesting that the journalist herself does not see a problem in such a team, but advises girls to work on their unprofessionalism in order to be more successful in the modeling business. Such texts and attitudes are in great discrepancy with the emphatically feminist texts published, for example, by Slavenka Drakulić. Her speeches perhaps most clearly articulate a feminist position that at the very beginning of the new decade revised the state of women's rights (she writes about abortion, women's wages, the stupidity of women in politics) in the context of proclaiming new democracies. Furthermore, there are a number of articles that promote important social and political actors of public life in the 1990s. In this sense, the message of Svijet magazine seems ambivalent - on the one hand, the empowerment and struggle for women's rights, and on the other, the emphasis on the passive and patronizing image of women in the fashion industry. These tensions are the pain of most fashion magazines that want to build women / readers as victims of fashion and at the same time as modern, emancipated and independent.

In the article Dressing as Freedom, Slavenka Drakulić was motivated by the then provocative recommendations to women who work in kindergartens and schools to wear a skirt, not pants. She wrote: If we leave democracy aside, it is indisputable that pants better protect the ovaries in winter. And judging by the pre-election announcements, the ovaries are strategically more important to this environment than the protection of student morals. And one reader in the next issue of the magazine wonders: … don’t we have enough other problems than stuffing women in a SKIRT.


* The text was produced within the project Fashion in Transition: Fashion and Clothing in the Early 1990s in Croatia

* The exhibition was supported by: the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, the City Office for Culture of the City of Zagreb for 2020.

* Copyright © cimo - a center for research of fashion and clothing. All rights reserved.