At a place where Europe borders with Russia, sits the beautiful country of Georgia. The huge collection of instagrammable natural wonders, architectural masterpieces, diverse cultures, and stunningly beautiful landscapes are some of the things that continuously draw tourists into this former Soviet nation. Georgians are famous for their cordial hospitality, and you are sure to enjoy every moment of your trip to a country, also known as the birthplace of winemaking.
Something else is taking Georgia’s global popularity to new heights: fashion design. Thanks to the able hands and creative spirits of the country’s designers that fashion enthusiasts are paying particular attention to Georgia’s clothing trends
It comes as no surprise that the country is home to two popular fashion exhibitions: Mercedes Benz Fashion Week and Tbilisi Fashion Week. Undoubtedly, anyone would be eager to know the faces behind these fashion scenes. With that said, here’s a round-up of some of the most popular Georgian fashion designers.
Demna Gvasalia is the name that immediately comes to the mind of someone thinking about Georgian fashion. In 2014, he founded the fashion house Vetements alongside his brother, Guram Gvasalia, a move that propelled him to the position of artistic director at Balenciaga fashion brand in 2015. Earlier, he worked as chief designer at Louis Vuitton (2012-2014) and Maison Martin Margiela (2009-2012). His works in these Paris-based brands played a crucial role in exposing Georgia’s emerging fashion scene to the world.
Born in Georgia in 1981 to Russian mother and Georgian father, Gvasalia became interested in fashion when young. He studied international economics at Tbilisi State University, but his passion would drive him to study Fashion Design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Belgium.
As he claimed during an interview with Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), Demna started Vetements out of frustrations with the then fashion. To reinvent the fun, he co-founded a brand that’s currently competing with fashion powerhouses such as Valentino, Gucci, Versace, Prada, Stone Island, and Saint Laurent. It didn’t take long for fashionistas to notice Gvasalia’s oversized trenchcoats and hoodies. His growing popularity was also attributed to the cheeky incorporation of corporate logos, including Interpol and DHL, as well as staging shows in downmarket Chinese restaurants and gay nightclubs.
Vetements is known for its authenticity, innovation, and youthful spirit, demonstrated by its streetwear, including the iconic cigarette lighter-heel socks boots, floral dresses, and street thug hoodies. Some of the label’s hoodies cost as much as $800.
You surely expect celebrities to engage with a brand that ranked 10th position on Lyst’s 2019 Index ranking for the top fashion brands. Notable celebs spotted in Vetements’s pieces include Celine Dion, Kanye West, and Kim Kardashian.
Gvasalia is also a recipient of popular fashion awards including, 2017 CFDA Fashion Awards’ International Designer of the year and 2016 The Fashion Awards’ International-Ready-To-Wear Designer. He exited Vetements in 2019, but still retains his position at Balenciaga.
Following the footsteps of Gvasalia and landing a runner-up position in our list is a self-taught Georgian designer born in the early 90s-George Keburia. If you’re not familiar with this Georgia’s household name, he is the creative mind behind the small, wave-like sunglasses you’ve seen celebrities like Kortney Kardashian, Pamela Anderson, and Rihanna flaunt. His rectangular frame acetate sunglasses (going for at least $200 on online stores) has become an obsession.
George debuted in fashion design in 2010, intending to showcase masculine elegance and feminine classiness. His collection was also highlighted with outlandish concepts and fantastical references, and surprisingly, he won the Tbilisi fashion Week’s “Best Newcomer” Award.
In 2012, George’s “Bird Nest” capsule collection won him the Community’s Choice Muuse x Vogue Talents Vision Award as well as the Be Next design contest in Tbilisi. This heightened Keburia’s recognition on a global scale, followed by a gig to design apparel for Materiel Fashion House from 2013 to 2014. George then concentrated on his label, producing more wearable items.
Keburia’s brand is respected in both local and international fashion markets. His designs are an ideal illustration of modern femininity and masculinity, carefully combining classiness and eccentric lifestyle. A minidress without one strap shows George’s tendencies towards asymmetric themes. At the same time, the incorporation of rainbow fringes in some of his pants, camp shirts, and skirts is a nod to Georgia’s less-appreciated LGBT community.
You will find Keburia’s apparel and accessories in concept stores and boutiques across US, Ukraine, Russia, and Georgia, as well as countless online stores where his draped high collar dresses, polka dot midi dresses, color block velvet pants, and polka dot skirts are a significant highlight.
Popularly known as David Koma, Komakhidze has secured himself a top position in the lineup of world-renowned Georgian fashion designers. Born in Georgia but based in London, David studied Fine Art in Saint Petersburg before moving to Central St. Martins College of Art and Design in 2003. It’s here he sharpened the design skills that have helped him create his signature brand. The Georgian designer launched his ready-to-wear brand after graduating with Master of Arts (MA) in Fashion in 2009, and since then, has been an active participant of London Fashion Week shows held twice a year.
Akin to Damne Gvasalia, David Koma started showing interest in fashion design at a tender age. 13-year old David started participating in design competitions while at St. Petersburg and staged his first collection at the age of 15.
Koma is known for his ultra-body contouring designs motivated by the feminine form. It’s hard for even the most passive fashion show viewers to dismiss a sequined zebra-cat suit designed by David, who relies on a single form of inspiration and its variations. A trip to Kenya bore the inspiration behind his collection of raffia ruffles, sequined fringes, and beadworks.
David thrives in designing corsets and bustiers so tight and curved that they would easily act as the second skin. So, you don’t have to wonder why his pieces are synonymous with Hollywood celebrities and other famous personalities, including Rose Huntington, Kendal Jenner, Jennifer Lopez, Naomi Campbell, Rihanna, and Beyoncé.
Koma was the creative director at Manfred Thierry Mugler from 2013 to 2017. He also boasts several fashion awards and prizes, including Fashion Forward (2013), NEWGEN sponsorship (2010), and Vauxhall Fashion Scout (2009). The fact that he was nominated for the 2018-19 BFC/Vogue Fashion Fund can hardly go unnoticed.
Born in 1987, Lako Bukia sets the pace for female Georgian fashion designers in our list. Following graduation from school No.58, Lako was enrolled for Fashion Design and Textiles Diploma in Tbilisi State Academy of Arts from which she graduated with a BA. She attained her second degree, this time specializing in Womenswear, at the London College of Fashion. It’s during her stay in London that Lako Bukia launched her brand, which has featured in several editions of London Fashion Week.
Lako staged her first show dubbed “Mushroom” in 2008 in Tbilisi, where her designs were highly acclaimed. This earned her an invitation to the 2009 Kiev Fashion Week of young designers. In 2008, her selection was featured in the issue of a popular American fashion magazine, the Oasis, besides being exhibited at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.
You will also find Lako’s fashion designs being shown showrooms and catwalks held in Kiev, Berlin, and Paris. Most of the collections are made in the UK, with the knits illustrating the Georgian tradition of knitwear.
The Georgian designer opened the Lako Bukia boutique in the awesome city of Tbilisi in 2012. Here, you will find cheaper streetwear and local clothing as well as premium fashion and evening dresses.
Upon graduating from the MFA course at Parsons in 2014, she reinvented her brand’s concept, paying particular attention to self-made digital prints/ fabrics. In her 2017 spring collection, Lako incorporated prints of Georgian landscapes and post-soviet buildings on cropped jackets, dresses, and pants. Being the brain behind a variety of collections, Lako Bukia is undoubtedly a force to reckon with when it comes to Georgia fashion scenes.
Irakli Rusadze is a Georgian fashion designer born in Tbilisi a few months after the collapse of the Soviet Union and raised at a time when Georgia was struggling with poor living conditions, famine, and inflation resulting from 1991-93 civil war and collapse of soviet economy. It’s from his 90s experiences that he derived inspiration for his minimalistic fashion designs.
Irakli’s interest in fashion heightened while in primary school, where he started working on illustrations and sketches. At the age of 14, the self-taught designer was already partnering with fashion houses, where he supported designers with sketches and ideas.
Rusadze is the brains behind two famous Georgian labels: Situationist, specializing in womenswear, and Aznauri, a menswear brand. He is a co-founder and creative director at Situationist.
Since its establishment in 2015, Situationist has garnered monumental international recognition, enough to compare it with Gvasalia’s more popular label, the Ventements. Irakli revealed that the inspiration behind his Situationist collection is the 1990s Georgian women who were always joyful in a world that had little to nothing to offer. The collections are predominantly made of leather and feature varying visual languages, including ambiguous, abstract, bold, and dark. The languages not only highlight the clothes but also spark certain experiences and emotions. The appearance of the famous American model, Bella Hadid in one of the label’s thigh-high leather boots and long leather trench coats, was enough to trend the label in the tabloids.
In 2016, Irakli founded Aznauri, a label that specializes in minimalistic leatherwear and sporty tailoring. The label’s 2017 Tbilisi fashion week collection included a black leather biker jacket with a triple buckle sleeve, black leather trench coat, and burgundy wool suit. Rusadze had his models play a full-time soccer match in the courtyard of a hotel dressed head-to-toe in his collection.
MACH & MACH
Mach and Mach is a top fashion label established by two Georgian sisters, Gvantsa and Nina Macharashvili. They are also the label’s chief designers. The siblings have had a passion for fashion since childhood and aimed at creating haute couture, ready-to-wear designs when launching their luxury label. They established the MACH & MACH showroom where their collections are made and exhibited.
The brand is known for its eccentric, sparkly, and sequined apparel geared to strong, fashionable, and career-driven women who don’t shy away from having some fun moments. World acclaimed celebs including Gigi Hadid and Kylie Jenner, are already synonymous with the brand’s ultra-shiny party-ready pieces. Katy Perry has appeared in her performances wearing Mach & Mach silver jumpsuit, red dress, and pink ruffled purple coat.
According to the sisters, their designs are inspired virtually by everything ranging from nature, movies, art, music, technology, to people. In fact, their 2017-2018 collection dubbed “Girls Democracy” had vivid references from sci-fi films, including the Blade Runner, Fifth Element, and Matrix. The collection included tulle mini-dresses as well as PVC and punkish leather creations, augmented by shiny metal parts. It’s this collection that drew Katy Perry to Mach & Mach.
Gvantsa and Nina, who describe their aesthetics as pop, bright and futuristic, also design their accessories, including handbags and sunglasses. Local artisans make the accessories. Mach & Mach’s ultra-trendy, mirrored sunglasses with wooden frames and lenses of all shades are sure to create a buzz in fashion showrooms.
The closing show of Fashion Week in Tbilisi is always a highly anticipated moment. It is run by none other than the Tbilisi-born and Russia-based Georgian designer Bessarion, born Besarion Razmadze. Bessarion was born in 1978, and his interest in beauty and art became notable in his childhood years. He schooled in Niko Pirosmani school of art and later at the Academy of Fine Arts, both found in Georgia’s capital.
From 1997 to 1999, Bessarion paraded his collections in various shows, primarily in Tbilisi, with his career shifting gears in 1999 when he won a qualifying competition to study at the Vyacheslav ZeitanFashion House. It’s while in Moscow that Razmadze worked with various Russian artists and scored an opportunity to work as a chief merchandiser at Valentine Yudashkin Fashion House.
Razmadze launched his label under the name BEssaRION in 2009. He excels in streetwear, carefully blending plaids, florals, sweatshirts, and oversized button-downs. His brand is rooted in films, books, music, and art.
In spring 2019, BEssaRION collection featured a huge checked cape and leopard-print spliced dresses. A pair of trousers with pinched and flared sides stood out by hinting Ramadze’s intensity and play on proportions. The designer finalized the Spring 2020 festivities with shiny, ready-to-perform leatherwear, neutral-toned, sharply-cut denim, Matrix-style coat, and utilitarian trench coat, with the silky garments sprinkling some softness to the already intense collection.
It seems like politics, sports, and fashion modeling are longtime bedfellows in the noble society, as illustrated by power couples such as Donald and Melania Trump, former France President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian supermodel Carla Bruni, and not forgetting David and Victoria Beckham. In Georgia, you will find Kakha Kaladze and former model Anaouki Arashadze. If you didn’t know, Kakha Kaladze is a former defender at AC Milan and the current mayor of Tbilisi.
Arashadze is a former model and now a popular Georgian fashion designer whose namesake label-ANOUKI has gained a massive international audience since its establishment in December 2013. She was only 23 and a Fashion Design and Styling graduate from Istituto Marangoni, Milan, Italy. The brand specializes in ready-to-wear garments, shoes, and accessories marked by exciting and innovative styling.
Anouki was born in Tbilisi, but unlike several designers who discovered their passion in their childhood days, she learned about her interest in fashion during her teenage years when she became interested in creating personal looks with unusual garments. Her popularity cannot be underestimated. American Vogue named Arashadze No1 It-Girl from Georgia in 2106. She has also featured in several international publications, including the NY Times, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vogue.
Arashadze aims to reinvent the feminine look with unexpected, extraordinary pairings and details. She derives inspiration for her collections from traveling, especially in Italy, where she loves sitting in cafes and watch how people talk, walk, and wear. Anouki’s 2020 Spring collection included floral printed flocks, leather trench dresses, her signature sequin off-the-shoulder midi dresses, and oversized suits.
Tamuna Ingorovka is an established Georgian designer whose label, INGOROVKA, has been on the world fashion map and splashed on several magazines and tabloids since its establishment in 2002. Ingorovka was raised in a turbulent Georgia where basics were scarce, and this could have played a role in her growing adventurous and explorative spirit.
Tamuna studied at Tbilisi Academy of Art and Paris International Fashion University. Her move to Paris not only marked her first professional design venture but also triggered her passion for travel, which happens to be the main inspiration for her designs.
INGOROVKA boasts modern and minimalistic designs, notable by the high-quality tailoring. A team of tailors working in Tamuna’s Georgia workshop make the collections; however, she sources fabrics from France, Italy, and Japan. Tamuna excels in representing modern times, emotions, desires, and personalities through her less provocative and predominantly leather designs.
Celebrities have also taken a liking for Ingorovka’s designs. Lady Gaga has appeared in a white leather coat from INGOROVKA S/S 2018 Collection, black dress from the label’s 2019 collection, as well as a blue leather dress with long-sleeve blue leather gloves. Tamuna’s spring 2020 collection featured graphic leatherworks, loose-fitting pants, and bleached speckled denim.
Signing off the list is a Georgian-born and Paris-based accessories designer, Ketevane Maissaia. She is the brain behind the luxurious Le Moccasin Zippe brand. Ketevane studied fashion design at Paris in Institut Francais de la Mode(IMF) and Atelier Chardon Savard. While in Paris, she interned at Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan. Following graduation from IMF in 2013, Maissaia worked as a studio assistant at the Leather Goods department of Hermes and then as a bag designer at Maison Margiela. She currently works as a full-time bag designer at Loewe menswear.
With the experience earned from internships and collaborations with leading brands, Ketevane launched her moccasin label in 2013. Something spectacular about Maissaia’s shoes is the decorative zip at the front that helps the owner fasten the pair together when not wearing it. The retail price of her collection lies somewhere between $470 and $650. In collaboration with Thierry Lassry, she also created the famous Ketevane Maissaia eyewear.
Ketevane is a regular at Tbilisi Fashion Week. Her Spring 2018 collection included over-the-knee boots made of canvas as wells as suede and leather Sabo slingbacks.
Georgia is fast growing into a popular fashion tourism destination, with the Tbilisi Fashion Week Shows offering upcoming and established Georgian fashion designers an opportunity to showcase their creations. Whereas all the above designers are born in Georgia, you may have noted that some are based in other countries, especially the UK, France, and Russia.
The designers have gained international fame, with some dressing a considerable list of world-known celebrities. A number of them have started their lines of accessories to augment their already established labels. More and more fashion designers are cropping in Georgia, and you surely expect the country’s position in the world fashion map to continually improve.