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Natalie Cantell

A postcard from Tbilisi: the Best of Georgian Fashion

All eyes on Georgia, Vogue publishes an article saying, blogger Natalie Cantell discovers what the up-and-coming fashion capital has to offer.

I sent my rsvp immediately, figuring anything fashion-related I discovered in Tbilisi beyond the cheese pie situation would be a bonus.

Isuspect you’ve heard little about Georgian fashion but Demna Gavsalia is changing all that. The creative push behind cult Parisian label Vetements, Gavsalia previously headed up design teams at both Margiela and Louis Vuitton, and has just moved in to Balenciaga to fill Alex Wang’s shoes as artistic director. Coming from New Zealand, it’s easy for me to understand the frustration of a smaller nation’s talent being amounted to the notoriety of one or two internationally acclaimed designers. So I thought, why not go out and discover the rest.

It was in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital city I hung out with some of the most humble and talented people I’ve come across in this entire industry. I drank their incredible local wine while we viewed their collections; I attended countless shows, all leisurely scheduled from the afternoon onwards. I roughed it at a hotel humbly called Rooms, which turned out to be one of the most exceptional places I’ve ever kicked off my shoes and laid my weary head. I dodged traffic (and in all seriousness, in Tbilisi that’s no small feat) and explored one of the most interesting and curiously beautiful little cities I’ve ever come across. Here’s a taste of four very different Georgian designer labels – my top looks from my favourite shows. Shot mostly on the streets of the incredibly picturesque district known only as the ‘Old Town’.

Wearing Mach & Mach.

Sisters Gvantsa & Nina Macharashvili are young, cool and undoubtedly modern. They offer up seemingly mismatched collections of individual pieces that are genius. Think tweed, sequins, statement T-shirts and boxy cross-body bags. Oh, and they also just casually do all their own footwear. Graffiti covered Oxfords, combat boots, designer sneakers…

Wearing Dalood and Jacques Marie Mage eyewear. 

After one all-too-short visit to the Dalood boutique, I was immediately spotting their pieces on Georgian women all over town. Their collection ranged from the quietly chic and tastefully tailored, to bold and kooky statement pieces, that you can pick as their’s from a mile away. My favourite look, a floorlength navy gown with shoestring straps, layered over a sheer lightly sequined turtleneck. Just really, really good.

Wearing Matérial by Aleksandre Akhalkatsishvili.

Matérial is undoubtedly the coolest store in Tbilisi. Its premium line, Matérial, is an assortment of collections from a handful of truly exceptional young designers. Aleksandre Akhalkatsishvili’s collections have become an obsession of mine, particularly the Japanese feel of his layered looks that combine the heaviest cottons and light, buttery leathers, finished with the perfect slides. And that’s taking nothing away from what’s offered up alongside him by Lika Chitaia and Tiko Paksashcvili. One of the most exciting (and judging by past collections, consistently outstanding) designer labels I’ve discovered anywhere.

A postcard from Tbilisi: the best of Georgian fashion

Wearing George Keburia, Common Projects sneakers and Karen Walker eyewear.

George Keburia’s show was the very situation that makes street style photographers want to cry. All the coolest people in the industry, a highly anticipated off-site show, two stories down in the underground carpark of a shopping mall, with no way of shooting the arrivals. 24-year-old Keburia’s show was made for the bold young things who sat front row decked out in his recognisable current season designs. He’s received more than the occasional accolade, including Best Newcomer at TFW and the Community’s Choice Muuse x Vogue Talents Vision Award, and has designed for Matérial. He has the market cornered on interesting silhouettes and slightly masculine designs with unexpected twists – like those earrings, hot off the runway and already everywhere.

Photographer: Adam Katz Sinding.

This is a blog by Natalie Cantell.