Irakli Rusadze was only seventeen years old when he established his own fashion brand, Situationist. The self-taught designer learned construction and sewing from old Georgian craftsmen and soon brought a new label to the emerging Georgian fashion scene. Sometime later, the brand got acknowledged by Milan and Paris fashion weeks and grabbed greater attention when Bella Hadid wore his pieces while out in Paris.
The brand is represented by raw, minimalistic and strict aesthetics implying old Georgian cultural identity, ‘90s memories, and the Soviet period along with a futuristic fashion narrative. But these influences are changing, as they no longer want the world to focus on just a period of time and put Georgia in the box of ‘post-Soviet country’. The latest collaboration with Berlin-based Georgian photographer David Meskhi is a pretty unusual fashion shoot, where the photographer, entirely free from industry pressure and constraint, presents the label in his very own special way.
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What should we know about Situationist and what does the brand name refer to?
Irakli: Situationist takes its inspiration from the group of political and artistic social rebels of a mid-20th century known as Situationists. The group was born out of the fusion of avant-garde artists, political theorists and street ethnographers who started to explore alternative life experiences that are constructed by everyday life situations. Artistic means of expression – of both the Situationists and the label – is all about aimless wondering, experimentation, sensing time and following one’s own desires.
How did the collaboration with David Meskhi happen?
David: We met in Berlin at one of the home parties during New Year’s Eve celebrations. We just exchanged a few words and opened up that we both loved each other's work. Before Paris fashion week, Irakli told me that he was interested in me taking a photo of a model dressed in Situationist. He wanted to see my vision of the brand. Back then, we both thought that I would just make a single shot for Instagram but, at the same time, he gave me absolute freedom and that was where I got challenged. For the first time, I asked myself if I could do a fashion shoot while staying true to myself image-wise. This is how a single image turned into a campaign for the brand and I have worked on it as my personal project.
David, as the reader already knows from our last interview, your photography implies different directions and themes, from pictures of gymnasts to documenting the skater culture in Georgia. And now you come with fashion photography. Could you share with us the approach towards the brand and what did you have in mind while shooting the campaign?
David: Leather clothing and photography led me to Robert Mapplethorpe, but instead of using a studio, I rented a sports space. I knew I had a couple of leather looking mattresses that I could use as a background and, of course, the atmosphere of a sports school that would give the shooting a twist of my artworks.
Who are the models, where did the shooting take place and why did you decide on using the black and white theme? 
David: The only hint from Irakli regarding the brand was that it is about individuals, so I decided to ask a couple of friends who were already experienced in modelling to be part of the collaboration. The shooting took place in Berlin, starring Nat Marcus – poet and a co-founder of Tabloid press –, Mikka Nielsen – artist and a co-founder of Herrensauna –, and Jade Lee Petersen – a contortionist artist. The reason for choosing black and white goes back to my early thoughts on what would I do for Situationist; I always imagined it that way.
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Situationist is one of the front-runner labels on Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi and Milan Fashion Week. It became even more popular when Bella Hadid stepped out wearing your label in Paris. Can you tell us more about the Fall/Winter 2018 show highlights and your work with celebrities?
Irakli: The collection aimed to discover new ways of using pre-existing forms and was very minimalistic. The strict minimum is our approach towards Fall/Winter 2018. Our original plan was to show the collection in Women's Prison Nº5 in Rustavi (Georgia). Unfortunately, we had to change the location the last-minute. However, the concept of the show was very similar to the raw and minimalistic aesthetics of our initial space. As for our work with celebrities, I think it is majorly connected to the platform of Mercedes-Benz. For example, the stylist of Bella, Elizabeth Sulcer, saw the pictures of our show on Vogue and got in touch with us. Working with Bella and Elizabeth is indeed a great honour for me.
Your brand is often compared to Vêtements. Do you see similarities except for you and Demna being both from Georgia and having the same inspirational roots? (‘90s style, oversized clothing etc.)
Irakli: I have a great respect towards Demna, but I would not say Situationist and Vêtements have many similarities. I understand the comparison that was made in the beginning, as both of us come from Georgia and there could have been some inspirational similarities. But now, we are trying to distance ourselves from ‘90s fashion and the post-Soviet niche in which Georgian designers are often put. Georgia has much more interesting and deeper culture than seventy years of the Soviet period. Therefore, in our Paris Fashion Week presentation, we aimed to bring out the vision of young Georgian artists whose sense of belonging goes beyond a recently popular image of post-Soviet culture.
From your personal experience, what should other Georgian brands aim to get as much attention and acknowledgement as your brand?
Irakli: Situationist is only three years old, and we were already presented in Paris and Milan. Every brand that is participating in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi has equal opportunities. However, I think that the amount of time and energy that a designer and a team are willing to contribute to their brand is crucial for success.
Future collabs? Other comments?
David: At this moment, I can think of one more collaboration for sure, and let’s see how happy we both are going to be about it. I guess I’ll be keeping myself busy with shooting at the studio on dark winter days in Berlin.
Irakli: Apart from having worked together, David is also a good friend of mine. We will be bringing our joint efforts further in the nearest future.
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