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If you think about fashion in the GDR, do you see colors and nice feminine looks? Or do you see grey, shapeless clothes? No matter what you think, both thoughts are right. In the GDR you could find the one and the other.
In an interesting article the “Deutsche Welle” deals with the topic fashion in the GDR and especially with the alternative fashion. “Protesting with skirts in East Germany” is an article about the possibility of a silent protest against the system with clothes. Clothes you couldn’t buy, clothes you only could sew on your own.
An important organ for those women, who wanted to wear individual feminine clothes, was the magazine Sybille. This magazine appeared first in 1956 and offers “an avant-garde counterpoint to everyday life” (Christoph Richter, DW). The magazine was essential influenced by the editor Dorothea Melis. “„I wanted to do something contemporary that catered to the women who were living and working in these economically complicated and bad conditions," said Melis, who worked for Sybille from 1961 to 1970 alongside the country's top photographers.” (Christoph Richter, DW). These photographers were among others Sybille Bergmann, Ute and Werner Mahler, Roger Melis and Arno Fischer.
The magazine was critical watched by the Central Committee of the GDR, because it meant thinking against the system and it offered little escapes from the grey monotony.
Nevertheless the magazine Sybille and the “do-it-yourself fashion” were really important for the women in the GDR and “it served a therapeutic purpose as well, encouraging readers to trust their own aesthetic, shape their own lives, and be wary of dogmas.” (Christoph Richter, DW)
(photo: DDR Museum)