Situationist: Fashion Transforms the Georgian Experience into Female Empowerment

Situationist, an internationally known Georgian label, is headed by the young designer Irakli Rusadze, famed for his edgy designs and technical prowess.

 

He is one of the few Georgian designers to gain worldwide fame – the other is Demna Gvasalia, renowned for his own fashion brand Vetements and his current tenure as Balenciaga’s creative director. Rusadze, who has been designing since he was just 13, got his first break at the age of 25, when he was invited to show at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi. Situationist was launched in 2015, and while the brand has only been around for just two short years, it has already made its mark on the international fashion scene as well as on Bella Hadid, famed Instagirl and model influencer. The brand’s youthful aesthetic and tough details are sure to become a hit as soon as it manages to break into the international industry and market.

 

The young designer has taken a keen interest in fashion from a very young age. When he was 13, he started off sketching and cutting patterns, and eventually graduated to making full pieces. As he honed his skills and developed his talents, he created his own fashion label, and the Situationist brand was born. Rusadze was driven by a desire to produce his own ideas and visions without being influenced by others; his creative vision was one that was unhindered by that of others, a feat that many other designers also want to achieve. It is interesting to see the rise of Eastern European, particularly Georgian, fashion through the lens of both Rusadze and Gvasalia. While the latter is indisputably the more famous of the pair because of his Balenciaga connections and success with Vetements, Rusadze is slowly making his own mark on the fashion industry as well, especially through Situationist’s increased success.

 

Rusadze is motivated and inspired by the Soviet occupation of Georgia and the struggles of the women who raised and surrounded him. He considers inner strength to be integral to his concept of femininity – the women were constantly fighting with daily difficulties, such as an inability to keep food on the table. The apparel he creates is made to enhance the strength of women, particularly their inner personality. It is not really the body of the woman that matters, or her beauty or youth; instead, Rusadze wants to highlight the spirit and resilience of the Situationist woman through his apparel. She is an independent and educated woman, confident in herself and her ability to make her own choices, nor is she necessarily pressured by society. The Situationist woman is empowered by her clothing and is supported by her apparel, unhindered by its form. In fact, she is appreciative of what her clothing can do for her, and this is exactly what Rusadze wants to convey through his strong and tailored designs. They are meant to be a symbol of strong women.

 

Even the models who slouch down Situationist’s runways are clear-cut images of power and laid-back strength. They are confident as they stalk down the runway and are unencumbered by the looser, long and flowy clothing. Leather is cut in thick layers while boxy tailoring adds to the image of effortless cool. Rusadze also includes references to his homeland of Georgia – the symbol of Mother Georgia and the Georgian flag have appeared before in cheeky ways, and have created Instagram sensations and instant sellouts. The boxy tailoring is, in its own way, also a reference to Georgia’s past. In the country’s patriarchal society, men always wore suits, and as a result, Rusadze has appropriated this strong tailoring into his womenswear designs, connecting images of masculinity and patriarchy with femininity and strength. It is an interesting and subversive choice, but it is one of the reasons why Situationist’s apparel is so eye-catching and alluring. It’s no wonder that people choose the Georgian designer’s edgy designs that capture the heart of Georgia and the identity of its people. In today’s society, as fashion becomes intrinsically tied to politics and identity, more and more designers are starting to infuse their apparel with references to their home and nationality. Gosha Rubchinskiy, famed Russian designer, is renowned for his Soviet-influenced clothing and constant references to Russian culture in his apparel. Even Gvasalia, through Vetements and Balenciaga, has produced Georgian-inspired clothing, much of which was sure to be an inspiration to Rusadze.

 

For now, however, the designer wants to focus on expansion, particularly international expansion. He wants his brand to be known worldwide, and he wants his apparel to be worn throughout the world. While he does understand the importance of representing Georgia in the international market, he doesn’t necessarily consider national identity to be an integral part in designing clothes. There may be a sense of cultural heritage imbued in the apparel, but it is not the only part. It seems that Situationist is well on its way to becoming recognized globally, similar to Gvasalia’s own Vetements. He has already shown a collection in Milan, and internationally famous model Bella Hadid has personally endorsed his designs. She was photographed wearing multiple pieces from the Situationist while getting dinner in Paris, and the free publicity that was generated from that feature was incredibly important in putting Situationist on the map. Rusadze acknowledges how helpful her choice to wear Situationist was, and he is grateful to her for personally choosing the apparel instead of going through her stylist. Known for her street style, it’s no wonder that Hadid chose to showcase Rusadze’s designs.

 

In all, Situationist is an up-and-coming Georgian brand that has put lesser known and young designer Irakli Rusadze in the international world. His clothing, characterized by strong tailoring and thick leather, is both an ode to Georgian heritage and a foray into international fashion by a Georgian designer. He wants his apparel to be worn by people in various countries, and not just by Georgian people. With Bella Hadid’s apparent endorsement and love, hopefully Rusadze will be able to achieve his goals of international expansion and renown.

 

Christiana.Koo@simparel.com

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