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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Russians Scramble to Keep in Style

Whether something is in or out of style has always seemed to me to be a very relative concept. When some magazine or television show tells you that the color of carrot-orange, or being made up like Brendan Lee in the movie "The Crow," is all the rage this season, this has very little bearing on everyday life. At least, such information didn't use to have any relevance because there was only one fashion and one problem in Russia's icy climate: not freezing in the winter.

It was only later that questions about fashion arose -- and not only concerning appearances. Fashion suddenly began to touch on everything from work, career and studies to behavior, vacation and entertaining friends. Some neighborhoods became more trendy than others. Certain magazines became fashionable and, indeed, fashion magazines began to make their appearance. It even became fashionable to have aristocratic ancestors or, at the very least, parents who were part of the party nomenklatura.

Most people, however, took little interest in this fashion contest. Women continued to wear Chinese and Turkish makeup, and people kept working at rather undistinguished jobs and living in old apartments in unpopular neighborhoods.

But those who could afford it were forced to think about how to keep in style. They were quick to discover that it was fashionable to build up sizable Swiss bank accounts because it is better to be rich than poor in this country.

Meanwhile, less fortunate people considered it better to be poor than dead. And so the nation was divided into two camps, each with little sympathy for the other's point of view.

The trendy people continue to spend their days making money and nights partying as hard as they can. For such people, obtaining a license to carry a gun has also become in vogue. But the height of fashion is to own a foreign-made car, especially a jeep or a sports car. Some brands are especially popular because they are easily recognized on the streets or appear in movies with well-known actors. Every effort is made to steal them from their lawful -- or unlawful -- owners. But this is no small task since the owners tend to equip their vehicles with the newest, state of the art security systems.

Personal security is something that has become very popular in its own right. Bulletproof windshields were very quick to catch on, as well as hermetically sealed, space-age, steel apartment doors. They are there to keep the owners and their cutting edge appliances and home electronics safe.

Of course, we shouldn't leave out e-mail and surfing the Internet. And in the most exclusive circles, scuba diving, flying lessons and even seeing an attorney have become chic. The list goes on to include such non-Russian activities as bowling, cricket, golf, Quentin Tarantino films, vacations in Monte Carlo, Gianni Versace suits and deafeningly loud, heavily guarded night clubs.

Professional bodyguards, cleaning ladies and drivers are also in style, as well as chefs, pop singers, television news anchors, businessmen and foreigners. New Russians and bandits are steadily going out of style, though, and are being replaced by intellectual types who lead a healthy life. The biggest problem with trends, after all, is that they are always changing, and you always have to worry about what the next season will bring.