Raising Soviet Arizona

Fashion of the 1980s in the USSR, photography by Sergei Borisov.

“Arizona” featuring Elena Peredreeva, 1986.

Sergei Borisov is a photographer best known for his pictures of late Soviet mainstream and underground celebrities: musicians, artists, models. His works were published in many magazines and newspapers – both in the USSR and abroad. Having started with photography for himself and occasional commercial clients in the 1970s, Borisov later switched to artistic photography and created some of the most iconic images of the 1980s, discovering and documenting the cultural renaissance of the era.

The photograph “Arizona” was taken in 1986. It was the time of perestroika and Borisov accepted many commissions for French magazine editors, who were interested in informal Soviet fashion. Borisov met Elena Peredreeva at the Moscow Fashion house and wanted to take pictures of her and other models: “There was just one problem – there was nothing for them to wear. At the time there were just a few designers and stylists, and I had to improvise and come up with the outfits myself, using what was available. I gave Elena the “Arizona” t-shirt on the first day so she would be comfortable in the studio. And as nobody could spell her family name correctly, she became known simply as Arizona.” 

The photograph was published for the first time in the most popular newspaper of the era “Vechernyaya Moskva” (Evening Moscow) and was later repeatedly reprinted in magazines abroad. Arizona became a star, even taking third place at the first Soviet contest “Moscow Beauty” in 1988.