After decades under Soviet Russia and centuries of foreign domination, Georgia and its people are looking to find their own independent identity aside from the narrative of occupation. And at the center of this nationwide soul-searching, Georgians have found one unexpected tool: fashion.
The biggest name in fashion to come out of Georgia is also one of the biggest names in fashion right now, period: Demna Gvasalia. The designer is using clothes to make a statement. “I could never do this job without such a fascination of how clothes can change us and how we can use them as powerful tools of communication and self-expression,” the Balenciaga and Vetements designer said at the CFDA Awards, accepting the International Award earlier this month. “My hope is that we can continue to move fashion forward by acknowledging the importance of its human factor.”
But while Gvasalia is the most well-known Georgian in fashion, he’s by no means the only one. Designers like Mariam Gvasalia and Ani Datukishvili are looking to expand beyond the confines of the country to pave their own ways on an international platform. And with their raw designs, creative spirit, and passionate voices, they’re making themselves heard.
Here, we celebrate the beauty of Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi―a city flush with experimental fashion, arresting street style, complicated history, and gorgeous landscapes―by photographing Georgian models wearing Georgian designers at some of Georgia’s most famous landmarks.
The 100-foot-tall columns that make up The Chronicle of Georgia are a monument to Georgia’s history. They depict kings, queens, and heroes at the top, and at the bottom the stories of the life of Christ. Georgia-born and Soviet-trained sculptor Zurab Tsereteli began building the monument in 1985, but never finished. It sits a top a hill and overlooks Tbilisi and the Tbilisi sea.
Mia Pailodze, the designer behind the new brand Mia was inspired by Sicily, Italy: Her latest collection uses textures like thick leather, transparent materials, and airy feathers.
With its glassed roof, the Bridge of Peace serves as the perfect viewpoint over historic parts of town. Built in 2010, the pedestrian walkway the connects heart of the old town to the new district.
Ani Datukishvili is a new, up-and-coming designer who showcased her first collection at Tbilisi Fashion Week. The brand embodies a mixture of cool downtown style with classical elements.
Located in the heart of Tbilisi is a massive canyon that hides a beautiful natural waterfall. It spills into a river that runs through the canyon where 18th century residential houses sit at the top edges of the gorge.
Lara Quint is remarkable for its avant-garde silhouettes, minimalistic cuts, and innovative fabrics.
Abanotubani (which means bath district) is the oldest part of Tbilisi. Naturally warm sulfur waters shoot up from the volcanic terrain and 16th century bath houses with rounded brick domes can be found on the narrow cobbled streets.
Mariam (not related to Demna) Gvasalia’s maximalist designs effortlessly combine metallic fabrics and handmade prints. She is a force to be reckoned with in Tbilisi.
The central square in Old Town used to be the trade center that attracted people from Russia and the Middle East to do business in small stalls, but is now surrounded by cafes and shops. It connects to the Bath District, the botanical garden, Narikala fortress, bridge to Metekhi Church, and Rike Park; basically the center of tourism for Tbilisi.
Lika Aladashvili is the founder and designer of the brand Lika 4 Lika. L4L is equally interesting for people who follow classic fashion as well as those who prefer underground style with key pieces highlighting fur coats, denim, and footwear.