Historian Inita Saulīte-Zandere has done a great job - she has written a book that provides a rich and engaging story about Riga's fashion world, its determinants, creators and incarnates from 1918 until 1940. And at the same time as the impressive details and performances of the creation of this "elegant Riga" on the stage of daily events of that time, we also see the great turns of history and their echoes in our history from a new point of view.
The book has four chapters: The Hard Start. 1918-1921; Under the flag of Paris. 1922-1929; Latvia can! 1930-1934; When politics affects fashion. 1934-1940. In each of them, what developments contributed to the development or retardation of the fashion-related industries were studied and analyzed - the economic and cultural situation, the motivation and thought patterns of women's/men's activities, expressions in the public space, the influence of personalities; specialists, industry organizations involved in the Latvian fashion industry have been identified and their activities, successes, problems and conflict situations have been analysed; a summary of how fashion was viewed in the Latvian press, which was the main source of information at the time.
The book has an ambitious and engaging visual material. It is also supplemented by the necessary appendices - a dictionary of terms, an index of persons, a list of craftsmen and literature.
The author notes: "Until now, there has not been any comprehensive research on the development of fashion from 1918 to 1940 in Latvia, which would allow a better understanding of the overall picture of Latvian history and people's lifestyle of that time. When viewed in a wider context, fashion is, on the one hand, a reflection of the economic, political and social life of society at a given time, and on the other, an influencer of people's lifestyle and thinking."
Inita Saulīte-Zandere's book "Elegant Riga. A Cultural-historical Story about Fashion and Lifestyle in Latvia (1918-1940)" conveys much more than is promised in its title. The author's fluent narrative not only skillfully draws us into the 20s-30s of the 20th century. years in the world of fashion and allows you to trace the lifestyle dictated by it, but for the first time in Latvian history literature offers to get to know an ambitious constellation of larger and smaller entrepreneurs of that time who worked in the local fashion industry. The work of knitters, ladies' and gentlemen's tailors and tailors, furriers, hatters, glove makers, shoemakers, fine leather craftsmen, linen seamstresses and other craftsmen is truly impressive, which is reflected in the richly arranged pictures in the book. A concise picture of the many companies, their names and owners is given in the attached list, which names the best-known representatives of the fashion industry in Riga. Many lovers of historical literature will read with great enthusiasm the impressive index of the people mentioned in the book, in which the indicated life and occupation data give an idea of the extent of our ignorance so far, which this cultural-historical story about fashion, which is only seemingly simple, helps to dispel. The author has precisely outlined its dependence on political contexts. The main source of Inita Saulīte-Zandere's research is interwar press releases, which have been analyzed for the first time in our historiography in the context of fashion and lifestyle. Historian's education and long-term experience as a journalist have made it possible to write a book that is an important contribution not only to Latvia in the 20s-30s of the 20th century. years in cultural, but also social and economic history.Ineta Lipša, historian
The publication of this book is a valuable contribution both to the research of Latvian design history, where Latvian fashion of the interwar period is still a "white spot", and an engaging reading and viewing material for a wide audience interested in Latvian cultural history in its diversity.
Culture News broadcast Kultūrvēsturisks stāsts par modi un dzīvesstilu Latvijā
Morning Panorama broadcast Elegantā Rīga. Mode un dzīvesstils Latvijā 1918.—1940.