Fashion Attack:Pussy Riot's Aesthetic Protest
A seminar with Dr Claire Shaw(University of Bristol, School of Modern Languages)
This paper considers the protest performances of Pussy Riot in the context of the contemporary Russian fashion scene. Media representations of Pussy Riot’s ‘Punk Prayer’ and its aftermath have focused on their style as an extension of western feminism and punk, but this is by no means the only layer of meaning contained in their ‘fashion attack’. Focusing on Pussy Riot’s 2011 track Kropotkin Vodka, I trace the group’s engagement with fashion as part of a complex and evolving Russian tradition of clothes as rebellion. I consider how Russian underground fashion provides a context and a vocabulary of protest fashion with which Pussy Riot engages, and how the recent development of Russian ‘glamour’ politics has configured fashion as a key battleground on which to challenge Putin’s political hegemony. As such, I examine fashion both as a tool and an object of Russian political protest.