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What is the story behind this photo?

Two women dressed in "Lenin Jackets".

When was this photo taken? Who are the models?

This photo, in many places on the internet, even in this article on "Chinese wikipedia", is shown as an example of a Lenin Jacket (列宁装). It is shown as an example of a particular type of fashion, the Lenin Jacket. Apparently, the 1950s were years of strong Soviet influence that extended into the realm of women's fashion. From what I read, this was a fashion trend important to Chinese modernization.

Here are the specific questions:

  1. In what year was this photo taken?
  2. What is the context of this photo? (eg, fashion, work photo, uniforms, news article, personal photo)
  3. Who were the people? (fashion models?, employees?, cadres? names, if possible)
  4. Was it published? If so, where?
  5. When did it start circulating on the internet?
  6. What is its copyright status?
  7. Where was it taken? In a studio with a backdrop, or outdoors? In what city, country?

Edit: Please note that this jacket, which is named "Lenin Jacket", and Vladimir Lenin are completely unrelated, except for their name. It is the name of a jacket. It is also unrelated to John Lennon of the Beatles.

Additionally, I am not asking about Vladimir Lenin or about Chinese Women's fashion; the link in the question to Antonia Finnane's book provides a ton of information about Lenin Jackets and other Chinese fashion topics. There are many other resources available. This question is specifically about this specific photo.

Extra Info:

This photo shows a woman in a light colored lenin jacket as does this photo. They clearly show that it isn't a Mao suit. It closes at a position offset from center, and is of a different, more feminine cut than a Mao suit.

  • 2
    It probably wasn't written down anywhere. This is like opening a Sears catalog from 50 years ago and asking who the models are. – D J Sims Sep 26 '16 at 22:39
  • 2
    A colleague said these might be China Railways uniforms, so perhaps they are Railway employees?. – axsvl77 Sep 26 '16 at 23:25
  • 1
    @axsvl77 - That might explain what looks a bit like a trestle (?) in the background – T.E.D. Sep 27 '16 at 22:01
  • 4
    I can only say that no known picture of Lenin shows him wearing this kind of jacket. Lenin is always shown wearing ordinary (3-piece) suit, coat and tie. – Alex Sep 27 '16 at 23:08
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    @Alex It is a "Lenin Jacket" sorta like "French Toast" and "Greek Yogurt" – axsvl77 Sep 28 '16 at 0:14
6
+500

Was it published? If so, where? When did it start circulating on the internet?

The earliest source I could find is from a story published in roll.sohu.com. It's a story about the lifestyle of the Chinese people in the 1950s and 1960s.

Where was it taken? In a studio with a backdrop, or outdoors? In what city, country?

The story mentions a place named Nanjing, a Chinese city. It doesn't say whether it was taken there or not.

In what year was this photo taken?

According to a journal published by Korean Society of Clothing and Textiles, it was taken in the early 1950s.

Reference: Journal of the Korean Society of Clothing and Textiles - Vol. 39 , No. 4


Who were the people? (fashion models?, employees?, cadres? names, if possible)

The Journal or the story cited above doesn't say anything about who the people were.

What is the context of this photo? (eg, fashion, work photo, uniforms, news article, personal photo)

The story has detailed context of the photo. Furthermore, Georgetown.edu has a detailed report regarding the coat's context. It says:

Lenin Coat was especially popular in China during the 1950’s. It is a variant of open-collared and double-breasted suit. Similar kind of suit was common in Europe and had become a conservative choice during the first half of the 20th century. But it was a new fashion when it firstly entered China during Second Sino-Japanese War and Chinese Civil War.

Russians don’t call this kind of coat “Lenin Coat”. The word was termed by Chinese. Because Lenin wore this kind of coat during the October Revolution. If we merely take the image of Lenin Coat as a signifier, Chinese and Russians share a similar first-order system (Allen, 42). But the second-order semiological system (Allen, 43) is significantly different.

In Russia, people did not especially relate this coat to Bolshevik spirit. But Chinese raised the image to show respect to certain ideology. I guess in some historical period, some people wanted to emphasize this layer of meaning and use the word “Lenin” to name the coat, which in turn changed the word’s first-order system.

Link to the full report.

  • 1
    Your answer is well written and very convincing; however on the website you mention, beneath the lenin jacket photo, it says "资料图片" which can traslate to "Resource Photo." This indicates that it was picked up from elsewhere on the internet, and is uncited. Gujia Jin is a photograph of the other woman. – axsvl77 Oct 17 '16 at 1:32
  • Here is one from 2007 – axsvl77 Oct 17 '16 at 1:41
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    Also, it says 岁时拍的染色照片 was for the Gujia Jin photo; not the photo I'm asking about. Also, nothing in that post indicates it was from Nanjing. – axsvl77 Oct 17 '16 at 3:19
  • @axsvl77 It seems the people in that photo were random ordinary citizens. It appears in the archives of china.org.cn. I I don't think they would keep photos of models as historical reference. – Sakib Arifin Oct 17 '16 at 5:16
  • @axsvl77 I updated the answer with more reference. – Sakib Arifin Oct 17 '16 at 5:17

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