The lack of resources such as Western shop mannequins in the Soviet Union led to inventive forms of display. In Moscow, Russian fashion designers presented their work to local customers at GUM and at the Dom Modelei fashion house in two live fashion presentations a day. “Shoppers” could buy paper patterns of these designs and textiles from GUM, to then either sew them by hand at home or undertake the lengthy process of having them made by a state-sanctioned dressmaker. The Soviet Union, with its bureaucratic light industry, could not supply many consumer products; what it could do was supply the tools by which an individual could produce them with their own labor.
Atelier E.B look to such ingenious and resourceful methods (like those devised for the display of textiles) in their new sculpture, produced for the Moscow version of Passer-by. The sculpture’s purpose is two-fold. Firstly, it makes a direct connection for visitors between the archive material about GUM and the present day, bringing to life the strange, faded scenes of drapes, folds, and pleats. Secondly, it illustrates Atelier E.B’s own ethos as a brand, for example the duo’s desire to focus on the textile rather than the styling of a garment. The artists want to tap into the complex issues surrounding Soviet fashion history: the realities of production and distribution on a meager budget, “real” women’s working wardrobes, and the ideological discourse that frames fashion as the ultimate expression of the desires of the individual consumer.