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Sat Mar 24, 2012, 07:43 AM

Black model remembers time in Russia during Cold War




____ Atlanta resident Jacqueline Chester, then a 21-year-old college student from New York, was vaguely aware of political tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union when she arrived at Sokolniki Park in Russia's capital city. Chester was a model for the American National Exhibition in Moscow, a seven-week event in the summer of 1959, designed to give Russians an intimate look at American life . . .

"I have so many rich memories," said Chester, who traveled and absorbed Russian culture when she wasn't walking the runways. She met many interesting people and returned home with the kind of cultural understanding that seemed to elude a country immersed in segregation. "People of Russians as being austere, strange people, but I found them very much like everyone else," she said.

Chester was among the 47 professional and amateur models selected for the Moscow-bound fashion show. The show was one of several installations at the exhibition, which took place on 11 acres of the park. Other attractions included a model American home -- which sparked the Kitchen Debate between Khrushchev and U.S. Vice President, Richard Nixon -- a cosmetics display from makeup maven, Helena Rubinstein and panorama of the American Landscape.

But when Hankin previewed the show for 250 American fashion editors assembled in New York, negative publicity threatened to unhinge it before it started. Some editors, appalled by the clothing, the casual format and scenes showing white and black models interacting socially, petitioned the show, with one calling it "an insult to American family life," according to Life magazine.

"We were concerned that they would change the format and we would have to relearn everything," Chester said. But Hankin stuck to his vision, minus some of the integrated scenes, and the show went on . . .


read more: http://www.accessatlanta.com/AccessAtlanta-sharing_/black-model-remembers-time-1396410.html

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Reply Black model remembers time in Russia during Cold War (Original post)
bigtree Mar 2012 OP
Number23 Mar 2012 #1

Response to bigtree (Original post)

Sat Mar 24, 2012, 08:17 PM

1. Wow. How interesting!

"Chester was a model for the American National Exhibition in Moscow, a seven-week event in the summer of 1959, designed to give Russians an intimate look at American life.

...Chester was among the 47 professional and amateur models selected for the Moscow-bound fashion show. The show was one of several installations at the exhibition, which took place on 11 acres of the park. Other attractions included a model American home -- which sparked the Kitchen Debate between Khrushchev and U.S. Vice President, Richard Nixon -- a cosmetics display from makeup maven, Helena Rubinstein and panorama of the American Landscape.

The 35-minute fashion show, produced by Leonard Hankin, vice president of Bergdorf Goodman, featured scenes from American life including a backyard barbecue and a civil wedding ceremony. The fashions included shirtwaist dresses, bathing suits, evening gowns and pants."


Never knew such a thing ever existed.

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