When the first golden arches appeared in Moscow’s Pushkin Square in 1990, it didn’t matter that it was mid-winter.

It was as if the snow in Narnia had begun to melt and the natural state of things was being returned in glorious technicolor. Russians queued around the corner for a taste of once forbidden patties.

"If you can’t go to America, come to McDonald’s in Moscow,” ran a McD’s ad. Soon other global brands piled in and dotted streetscapes with their logos and storefronts. The country of Potemkin imported many such familiar facades that were effective in conferring a kind of legitimacy to its government. Whether it was McDonald’s or Hugo Boss, such frontages suggested a country hip to modernity.