‘Post-Soviet’ clothing oozing a renegade, unrelenting aesthetic.
What’s cerebral, subversive and sublime at the same time? → The Situationist — Established in Georgia.
Irakli Rusadze (below) is the revolutionary designer, activist and iconoclast promoting human rights and pushing Enlightenment principles in a raucous part of the world. Agitating for social change and fighting for important causes — especially for Georgia — his fashion is a force to be reckoned with.
Georgia on my mind!
The Tbilisi-based fashion house, Situationist, is the brainchild of full tilt badass Irakli Rusadze, a Georgian native, artist-activist, cultural insurgent and fashion master blaster shaking things up in the south Caucasus (he previously designed Aznauri, an avant-garde label leveraging gender-neutral looks and garnering the attention of major players around the world). Hijacking the fashion system outright and fabricating fervid pieces with a seditious grit, Irakli spawns mega refined alternatives and visionary, mind-warping aesthetics.
Bringing cool touches of roughness, artisanal qualities and deconstruction to elegant gender-fluid staples and hybrid offerings — oversized trousers, leather trenches, raw hems, frayed knits, diehard dresses and alien accoutrements — Irakli’s gear exudes an indisputably Kartvelian majesty that has all eyes on Tbilisi.
The designer excels at making punked-up Pythagorean patterns, exaggerated proportions and jaw-dropping geometrical cut-outs. Typified by ‘Eastern Bloc’ mutant outerwear, take-no-prisoners silhouettes, and a mixture of masculine-slash-femme styles cut from lambskin, oxhides, microvelvets and organic materials, his gear is gutsy and galvanizing — coup d’état clothing and visceral extensions of the id. Call it ‘post-Soviet avant-garde maximus’ mashed-up with ideological undertones (pro-individual rights, of course!), architectural purity and straight up subversion.
Irakli’s aesthetic is Tbilisi-style transgressive to the tee — authentic, romantic, politically-charged garms for raving underworld visitants. His shapes and configurations are next-level and highly nuanced; surfaces are plush, pliable and puckered, outside and inside merge, folds envelop folds, details are decisive; the overall look is severe, but in a super-sexy kind of way. We love his masterful tailoring, tinctured with Georgian/transcaucasian kitsch and sprinkled with post-modern flourishes. In his collections surprise, entrancement, complexity and enchantment mingle, and revolution gestates.
In the rowdy wake of Russian State Duma Deputy Sergei Gavrilov’s ignominious visit to Tbilisi and the ensuing demonstrations that spontaneously erupted, mutated and multiplied around the parliament building and throughout the city, Georgia continues to simmer in a national crisis with deep political, social and moral consequences for the country’s future.
“Fuck Russia, Fuck Putin” is the mantra along with “defend LGBTQ rights and Georgia’s underground music/dance circuit.” Pro-Western, anti-Putin sentiment is palpable in the Georgian capital and a youthquake — led by creatives like Irakli, his fearless peers and countless liberal reformers — is shaking the place the fuck up.
What’s up in Tbilisi lately?
Well, a lot. Russian interference operations continue. The first Pride Parade — scheduled for the weekend — is threatened by conservative forces, namely The Orthodox Church, the Kremlin and bigoted thugs, egged on by Russia who aids and abets this persecution. It’s fucked but we’re gonna fight for what’s right and defend cosmopolitanism, individual rights and ‘Open Society’ values. Paleoconservative and nefarious forces be damned!
Is your aesthetic ‘post-Soviet’ or something else? Or is that cliché by now?
My designs have certain ‘post-Soviet’ influences, of course. After all, Georgia is at the geographical, political and cultural intersection of the crusty old USSR and the Caucasus — the place between Eastern Europe and Western Asia. But we’re currently pioneering our own unique aesthetic/style that corresponds to vintage ‘Iron Curtain aesthetics’ and post-Soviet heritage. Think dark romanticism, melancholia and bitter yet tender, grungy nihilism with a Western tinge. It’s an edgy, exotic ‘other-ness’ and Georgian designers are pushing it hard. Georgia is at the fashion forefront of all that.
Who are some Georgian creatives/labels/artists on your radar?
Materiel, Ria Keburia, Gola Damian, Celia Valverde, Tamara Kopaliani, Lado Bokuchava, Elene Metrevell, Demna, etc. And, of course, BASSIANI!
How is the label doing business-wise?
It is good. Growth is parabolic and we’re getting more and more media coverage and distribution, thank goodness. We will be shipping to amazing stores and boutiques like DSM, SSENSE, Browns London, Lane Crawford, etc. It is a motivating challenge to scale and grow the brand and comes with certain difficulties like sourcing the right fabrics/materials, managing production and ensuring quality control. But we’re making it happen!
How many people are currently working at SITUATIONIST’s atelier?
A handful of technicians and seamstresses and about 4-5 colleagues overseeing design development, pattern construction, PR, marketing and sales. The atelier is abuzz with artistic energy, lots of wonderful friends and visitors and it’s all very stimulating and creative. We also have a very diverse team hailing from different cities around the world.
What is Georgia’s geopolitical status in the region? Does it impact you?
It’s complicated and fucked up, but we’re a pro-Western, pluralistic culture with an appreciation for democratic principles and aspirations to join institutions like the EU, etc. Georgia is smack-dab in the middle of concentric zones of disorder — Russia and Chechnya to the north, Turkey and Armenia to the south, Dagestan to the east and political tensions across the region. But it ebbs and flows. Georgia is obviously part of a strategic geography with diverse geoeconomic interests. It’s an interesting hub teeming with tensions and diversity. Russia, in fact, just banned flights to Georgia, which will undermine tourism here. Oh well.
Tell us something about Georgia that we don’t know about.
The country’s remote location makes it hard to source materials and do collabs with overseas creatives. I think we have to work extra, extra hard to achieve our artistic goals and get good visibility. But fortunately we are a motivated crew making high quality, frontline clothing and people around the world are starting to recognize that Georgia is a progressive place for art, music, style, fashion and fun. Oh, we also have cool caves, stone beaches and roving dogs (friendly ones!).
What makes Georgia so cool?
We are committed to artistic freedom, individual rights and cosmopolitanism. We’re also fiercely independent and our culture is all about positive, constructive change oriented toward the future. Also, Georgian youth culture is hyper-active, well-informed and armed with a global outlook. We’re fomenting positive change and fostering creativity within and without.
Disrupt the status quo and come visit Georgia asap! As we like to say, “a guest is a gift from God!’
Photography Davita + VIVISXN MEDIA + Irakli Rusadze + Situationist
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