MOSCOW, January 21 (Kevin O’Flynn for The Moscow News) – It was a task for the finest tailor: Create a new suit for the country’s most revered dead man. Except where do you get a top tailor and the right material in the late 1960s Soviet Union?
As Soviet leaders prepared to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution in 1967, the workers in the Lenin Mausoleum noticed that Vladimir Ilyich’s suit was looking a bit shabby after 40-plus years of lying in state on Red Square, and thought of finding him a new one.
The saga of getting a suit for Lenin would last almost a year, involve thousands of Soviet employees, numerous institutes and a parcel from New Zealand, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported Monday on the 90th anniversary of Lenin’s death, citing newly declassified documents.
It was "epic work," Lyudmila Antonova of the Russian State Archive’s branch in Samara told the newspaper.
At first, the suit was sent to the Central Scientific Research Institute of Wool, but the subsequent report was not reassuring.
Even though Lenin was the founder of the worker’s state, he was not averse to the finer things in life; he famously owned a Rolls Royce after the Revolution. His suit, the Institute reported, was made from the finest goat wool, probably in England.
“It is impossible to make such cloth using local material and local equipment,” the Institute reported – a brave assertion to make in the 1960s, Komsomolskaya Pravda noted.
However, there was no thought of giving up. The Institute experimented with dozens of different types of wools until scientists developed a special combination of Angora and sheep wool specially exported from New Zealand.
That was only the start, as they next had to match the original suit’s color. It took more than 700 different attempts, a number of factories, hundreds of man hours and 10,000 square meters of cloth before the suit for a long-dead man was completed.
Lenin still wears it today.
The archive in Samara still has a few samples of the fabric created for the suit.
“Just a pinch and you can see the cloth is of the highest quality,” the reporter wrote.