Sitting on the wraparound porch of Tbilisi’s trendy boutique hotel, Rooms, during last week’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi, 27-year-old local designer George Keburia is quick to note how things have changed. “Ten years ago, there was nothing here,” he said. “We didn’t have lights.”
Today, things are different. “I was thinking about the everyday woman,” said Keburia of his Fall 2017 collection of ’80s-styled lilac and tangerine school- girl power suits and sheer, outsized empire frocks. “She could also be dramatic.”
His woman is young—“a teenager, or in her 20s,” he said—and this characterization is fitting. He sells at Tbilisi’s Chaos Concept Store—an expansive, ultra-cool boutique for the skate set dealing in J.W.Anderson, Shrimps, and a league of local designers—and his clothes—fresh, close-to-home, slightly surrealist—speak to the ambitious youth. He says he’s hoping a more mature client will take notice with time.
Keburia is among a small but growing group of young, talented Georgian designers on the cusp of breaking out. They are, quite frankly, of their own. They’re arguably more exciting as a whole than their emerging fashion counterparts in New York and London. They lived through the Soviet era, two years of civil war (1991-93), and the period of rebuilding. One 26-year-old filmmaker who attended fashion week, martini in hand, reflected on years without heat in the winter. Many Georgians commented that their culture, while deeply influenced by the Soviet period, is arguably the most distinct of the former USSR territories. With that in mind, their fashion designs are not dictated by rules of beauty in the traditional Western sense (Georgian-born Demna Gvasalia, in his work at both Balenciaga and Vetements, is an excellent representation of this), and they’re certainly nothing like the largely Oligarch-aimed wares coming out of Moscow.