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A dressing gown instead of a dress: why everything is not so simple with the style of Nina Khrushcheva
A dressing gown instead of a dress: why everything is not so simple with the style of Nina Khrushcheva

It was Nina Kukharchuk-Khrushcheva who introduced the tradition of accompanying her spouse on foreign trips, which was picked up by other Kremlin wives. For some outfits, the first Soviet lady in the Western press was ridiculed and called mother and grandmother. But it was not at all a lack of taste, and only a few women of fashion guessed why Khrushcheva chose such a style, and were able to appreciate it.

A dressing gown instead of a dress: why everything is not so simple with the style of Nina Khrushcheva

Babushka and babushka

Nikita Khrushchev's wife, Nina, was the first Soviet lady whom the whole world knew. The woman was often compared to Jacqueline Kennedy: the time of their "careers" coincided. And often unflattering words sounded about Khrushchev's wife. Jacqueline, wrote American reporters, is slimmer, more well-groomed, and more elegant - not like the wife of the first secretary of the Central Committee with her peasant face and overweight figure. One journalist somehow contemptuously threw: "Khrushchev looks as if Nikita Sergeevich himself had put on a skirt."

Another round of these conversations followed when, in 1961, Khrushchev visited Vienna with Nina, where he met with John and Jacqueline Kennedy. The joint photo of women became a real sensation. Journalists practiced backbiting when evaluating the first ladies. Nina Petrovna's dress was called a dressing gown, and she herself was dubbed a simpleton, "Russian mother" and "general grandmother."



The photo of Nina and Jacqueline was discussed for many years. In 2001, CNN recalled the photo: "Look at Nikita Khrushchev's wife and you will immediately understand why Russians generally have such a word: babushka." In 2019, the image was published by blogger Maxim Mirovich with the caption: "One photo that tells everything about the USSR." The comments said: "Khrushcheva looks like a grandmother who just left the kitchen, where she was frying cutlets, except that she managed to take off her greasy apron."

As a result, a discussion unfolded, during which the defenders of Khrushcheva reminded: firstly, Nina is 28 years older than Jacqueline, and therefore it is strange to compare women. Secondly, Khrushcheva lived a difficult life before becoming the wife and counselor of Nikita Sergeich. All this is true - the fate of Nina Petrovna was not easy, and her path to a high position turned out to be difficult and thorny.

The first peasant woman at the Mariinsky Women's School

Nina was born into a peasant family in 1900. She knew firsthand what hard work was: a knife scar remained on her hand until the end of her life - the blade slipped off when the girl chopped nettles to feed chickens. At the age of nine, Nina was sent to a village school. Three years later, her education would have ended on this, as was the custom in the village. But the teacher begged the parents: send your daughter to study further, smart girl, she will break into people!

Nikita and Nina Khrushchev

Nikita and Nina Khrushchev, Wikipedia

Father, although he doubted, but decided to obey the advice. Twelve-year-old Nina was sent to her uncle in Lublin to continue her education at the local gymnasium. She managed to study in it for only two years - the war began. Nina's father left to serve, he put his daughter closer to him: as a cook in the auxiliary unit. There the commander noticed the teenager, who one to one repeated the words of the village teacher: "This girl must study!" Together with a letter of recommendation, he sent Nina to Kiev to Bishop Eulogius: this is how the future first Soviet lady ended up at the Mariinsky Women's School, where peasant women had never been admitted before.

Revolutionary ideas found a response in the soul of the girl: in 1920, she secretly joined the CPSU (b), and she was immediately sent to the Polish front as an agitator. This work was extremely dangerous: such people were beaten, tortured and killed - which is only the fate of Tatyana Solomakha, who was bullied for more than two weeks before she wheel alive.

Nina's mind and her ability to find a common language with ordinary people, especially peasant women, did not go unnoticed. In the same year, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Western Ukraine appointed her head of the department for work among women. Nina told them about equal rights, new opportunities, campaigned to get an education and participate in political life.

The position turned out to be a little safer than the previous one. The peasants actively obstructed emancipation. Husbands did not allow women to study, saying that "our women are good even without a diploma, and if they are given a diploma, then they, perhaps, will not obey us at all." The report of the Siberian Revolutionary Committee said that "the men, in order to prevent the" women "from organizing, set up obstacles up to beating their wives and locking them up." So the female employees were often threatened. There were assaults and rapes.



In the fall of 1920, Nina Kukharchuk was sent to study at the Sverdlov Moscow Communist University. In the summer of 1921, she became a teacher at a party school in the Donetsk region. She fell ill with typhus, barely survived, but as soon as she got back on her feet, she continued to work again. In the fall of 1922, she met the young workers' faculty Nikita Khrushchev and soon began to live with him in a civil marriage, accepting his two children as her own.

We can say that Nina ruled the family: the husband understood that his wife was both smarter and more educated. Kukharchuk was called to Moscow to the Krupskaya Academy - she went to study. The woman was invited to teach political economy in Kiev - her husband followed her. Nina inspired Nikita to continue her education: this is how the family moved to Moscow. Kukharchuk gave birth to three children, but after the appearance of each, she immediately returned to her career and social work.

Having become the first lady, the woman continued to work and manage the household. The guards, cooks and drivers feared Khrushchev less than his demanding and thrifty wife, nicknamed Korobochka for her zeal. Nina refused to move to the Kremlin, not wanting to live in the palace, and after that it was reopened for visits.

The husband, having become the head of the USSR, continued to discuss working issues with Nina and always listened to her advice. Everyone knew: if you want to influence Khrushchev, go to Kukharchuk. And prepare strong arguments to convince a brilliantly educated woman who is well versed in economics and politics.

US President Dwight David Eisenhower (second from left), First Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU of the USSR Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev (left), his wife Nina Petrovna Khrushcheva

US President Dwight David Eisenhower (second from left), First Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU of the USSR Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev (left), his wife Nina Petrovna Khrushcheva, TASS

First lady

Before Nina, it was not customary among the "first ladies" of the USSR to accompany husbands on foreign trips. She began to do it first - and amazed foreigners with erudition, knowledge of languages ​​and secular manners.

At the same time, Nina always emphasized her closeness to the people, and simplicity, brought to perfection, became her style of dress. Jacqueline appreciated him. Expecting a meeting with Khrushcheva, Kennedy prepared for a long time, not wanting to hit her face in the mud.

She had reasons for this: Nina had already come to the United States in 1959, and at the evening reception she was dressed more appropriate, more elegant and at the same time richer than the wife of President Mamie Eisenhower. A simple outfit and real diamonds discreetly hidden in the neckline of the dress looked better than the revealing neckline, flaunting jewelry and furs on other ladies.

In her book Jacqueline Kennedy. A life told by herself”, the first lady of the United States recalls that she studied all the films about the Khrushchevs' visit to the United States, which were in the storerooms of the White House, and films from the Union, which were provided to her by intelligence officer and diplomat Allen Dulles. Studying the style of Nina Petrovna, Jacqueline came to the conclusion: she herself should prefer a calm business suit, so as not to get into a mess. It was the right decision: the Khrushchev couple presented Kennedy and his wife with a surprise that Jacqueline, despite the preparation, had never expected.



“They looked like a couple of relatives from the provinces who had come to visit their grand-nephews in the capital. What a masquerade ?! John even quietly gasped: "What is this?" The leader of a huge country dressed like a simple retired worker, but even more striking was the change in his lady.

This time, Nina Khrushcheva matched her home image: she put on a simple, colorful suit that looked more like a dressing gown. Of course, it didn’t escape me that the fabric of the suit was of such high quality that it didn’t wrinkle, unlike the one I was wearing. The Khrushchevs simply played a couple of elderly, experienced relatives who had come to teach a young upstart who decided to play politics,”writes Jacqueline in her book.

Nina's second outfit for meetings with Kennedy also looked like a robe. And looking at the pictures, you might think that John and Jacqueline themselves were visiting, and the hosts of the meeting are the Khrushchevs. So babushka Nina Petrovna was much more inventive and cunning than many people decided, looking at her "simple" outfit in the pictures with Jacqueline. Earlier, and now, only those who understand not only fashion, but also politics could appreciate her style.



Nina Petrovna and Nikita Sergeevich lived together for 47 years. They signed only in 1965, when Khrushchev had already been removed from office. Nina experienced the resignation of her husband even more acutely than he himself, considering it a monstrous injustice. Then the woman took the name of her husband - no longer the all-powerful leader of the country, but an ordinary pensioner. She survived Nikita for 13 years, died in 1984, forever remaining in the memories of contemporaries of one of the most intelligent, modest and self-confident first ladies of the Union.

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