Before you think that the Cold War just generated mass paranoia, nuclear weaponry, and political turmoil, think again! How about that atomic style we all still know and love? From kitschy anti-communism/anti-capitalism propaganda to mod fallout shelters and the ‘New Look’, the US-USSR silent feud produced some pretty radical designs.
Although never coming to physical blows, the US and USSR certainly raced against each other in all areas – technology (particularly in space and transportation), nuclear arms, and, of course, the design and printing of propaganda. This colorful medium for the vintage “war of ideas” is widely considered to be both iconic and collectable. One of my favorite Russian bars in Los Angeles, Bar Lubitsch, proudly displays its collection as well as other vintage Russian artwork (and provides authentic, ever-flowing Moscow Mules).
Fallout shelters, especially those of the pre-fabricated design, were developed by the U.S. government and marketed to the masses during the Cold War. Atomic paranoia inspired a myriad of styles ranging from the basic to the luxurious; many complete with canned food, an exercise bike that generated electricity, a port-o-potty, a dehumidifier, a hot plate for cooking, a record player and books to stave boredom, bunk beds and benches, medical supplies, and the more elaborate even had a dining table.
The ‘New Look,’ designed by Christian Dior at the end of WWII, brought luxury and refined shapes back into style. Structured and sculpted to mimic mushroom clouds and military uniforms, women’s clothing reflected the nuclear tension throughout the early days of the Cold War. Even undergarments followed suit – bullet bras pointed breasts towards the enemy while girdles smoothed silhouettes into missiles. And strangely enough, gas masks became both functional and fashionable.
What’s your favorite stylish remnant of the Cold War?