Monica Racic interviews Djurdja Bartlett about her new book, “FashionEast: The Spectre that Haunted Socialism”:

Coco Chanel gained ... much praise in socialist fashion media. Although Chanel might have seemed an unlikely comrade for socialist fashion, she was a natural choice in that she was merely perfecting, season after season, the smart woman’s work suit that she had designed in the mid-fifties. Of course, women under socialism could not afford a Chanel suit. They could not even find similar styles in the shops. Instead, they were advised to crochet their Chanel suits themselves.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to