Situationist: Tbilisi Spring 2019 Runway
Situationist designer Irakli Rusadze held his show at Bassiani, a drained Soviet swimming pool that now serves as the city’s main techno club. This past May, Bassiani was the site of controversy after police stormed the club in search of drugs and violently arrested several people. As a response, clubgoers held protests in the form of a rave at the city’s parliament, using the hashtag #WeDanceTogetherWeFightTogether. Rusadze took the phrase and created a capsule line of T-shirts to benefit the club. (Soon after, for their Spring 2019 collection, Vetements used the hashtag in their Georgia-themed collection.) Now, Rusadze’s shirts are on display, stuffed in a large plastic structure at the club’s entrance.
There is no doubt that Rusadze has homegrown pride and a genuine love for his country, and they radiate through his collections—each has been related to Georgia in some way or another. This season, he used Bassiani as a meeting ground between old and new Georgia, utilizing ancient dress and the ’90s styles that first put him on the map as jumping-off points. Rusadze’s interpretations of both eras were impressive. One dress had what could be compared to pointed piano-key adornments spreading across the chest to arms, creating tiny ridges on the shoulders. It was actually a version of the country’s traditional robe, the chokha. This look was a popular trend a few seasons ago, both in Tbilisi and abroad—Georgian-born David Koma used it, too—but Rusadze’s abstract take on the chokha’s decorative bullet cartridges was fresh.
On a more contemporary note, there was a great Georgian “dad look” in the mix: an oversize camp shirt, tailored trousers with a braided leather belt, and square-toe sandals. (Rusadze is no longer the creative director of Georgian menswear label Aznauri, so it was great to seem him making men’s clothes for his main line.) Always one for stellar leatherwork, Rusadze included a long bombshell evening dress with a keyhole cutout at the chest. (Paging Situationist fan Bella Hadid.) At the end of the show, a vibrating wave of classical piano music took over—quite the change from the throbbing techno that usually plays at the club. The models stood on a balcony, making for quite a powerful homage to the country.