Situationist A/W 2017

Let’s talk about someone fairly new to the international fashion scene: Situationist by Irakli Rusadze, the 25-year-old Georgian designer who was actually working in fashion 10 years before Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia, who also is from the former Soviet country of Georgia. You’ll find some similarity in their styles, and also some similarities between Rusadze’s Situationist and Ventements.

If you’re open to an international business idea, try starting a fashion magazine in Georgia. There are none. Yet, the country seems to be bursting with young designers such as Rusadza and Gvasalia. Their four-year-old fashion week in Tbilisi is already attracting department store buyers ready to scoop up the fashion with a strong indie appeal. With little access to international media and no national fashion magazines, avoiding the trend bubble of mainstream fashion houses is pretty much a given for these young designers. The biggest challenge for Rusadze and those like him is getting recognition outside his home country.

That recognition is coming slowly for Situationist. This is the second season Rusadze has shown in Milan and his placement on the schedule this evening was prime for attracting a large audience before the whole city breaks out into a giant party. While there are still a lot of people here who don’t know his name nor his brand, there is a very strong chance that is likely to change.

I will say that there’s not a tremendous amount of variety to this collection, but that is likely due, at least in part, to the fact that Rusadze has difficulty finding a variety of fabric. In an interview with i-D magazine this past December, Rusadze talks openly about the challenge of having a concept in his head and not being able to find the fabric to make it happen. Talking with domestic Georgian textile makers seldom yields the result he wants, forcing him to look internationally. Getting that fabric back into Georgia gets expensive, limiting his options.

So, it’s not really all that surprising when the first several looks are variations of the first: masculine silhouettes on oversized suiting, with coats falling off shoulders styled with nothing underneath.  Hope you have a good supply of double-sided tape. The models here didn’t.

As the collection moves forward, it’s obvious Rusadze has a thing for low plunging necklines. The reason for this, though, seems to be more political and cultural than a matter of style. In the interview with i-D, Rusadze talks about being influenced by Stanley Cohen’s book Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers. From there, he grew an appreciation for the struggle of strong women against the stereotypical expectations of Georgian society. Therefore, he creates clothes for them that are more open, more independent, and more daring.

One of the looks that I found particularly interesting is the hooded shirt below with layered panels. While we’ve seen plenty of hoods and hoodies over the past several years, the layering Rusadze does here is especially attractive and different without being terribly in one’s face. In fact, the subtlety of the design is one of the aspects that makes it so attractive.

What didn’t work so very well, unfortunately, was this all-green leather jumper-type thing. The still photo hides how awkward of a walk this piece had. The poor model seemed off balance the entire time and I almost thought she was going down during the turn. I think the issue may have been with the straps coming off the leg and under the boot. While I understand their purpose, I can’t help but wonder if it would have made any difference for them to be worn inside the boot rather than externally.

Last season, Rusadze ended the collection with a Ventements-styled t-shirt that bore the image of the Georgian flag. That was nice, obvious nationalism and for his first trip to Milan, no one can blame him for making such a statement. He ended this season’s collection with a graphic T as well. Unfortunately, in the short time since the show finished, I’ve yet to be able to find anyone who can tell me what it means. Whether it’s a political statement or a cultural emblem or just fun with clip art seems to be anyone’s guess. If I can find the meaning, I’ll be sure to let you know in an update.

Breaking out on one’s own in the fashion world is hard work and to only be 25 years old, Irakli Rusadze has demonstrated a strong passion for fashion and his brand in getting the Situationist label out of Georgia and on the calendar. At the moment, I’m not aware of any US stocklist for the label. Might I suggest sharing this review as a way of getting his name out, or perhaps mentioning the brand the next time you’re in your favorite department store. Rusadze is a talented and passionate young man. We would like to see him do well.

And if you’re of the mind, I know a country that could use a fashion magazine. Maybe Pattern could expand. Polina? I think Georgians still speak Russian. [evil grin]

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