Just take a look at Alexander Arutyunov‘s photo and you can tell: he is a cool guy. Then browse through his collections and lookbooks and yes, it’s confirmed. This man is a creative genius.
Born and raised in Tbilisi, one of the current focal areas of the fashion world, but schooled and based in Moscow: Alexander has a vision, and he knows what he wants. He dreams big and works hard – and it is paying off. His attention to detail and quality, the craftsmanship, original cuts, and his use of materials all contribute to the unique and upcoming label that Alexander Arutyunov is today.
Although technically the roots of his brand are in Russia, Alexander clearly believes in the creative talent and massive potential of his native country, continuously listing Georgia as one of his main sources of inspiration. Fashion is a craft, and even more so to him. Each of his creations is exclusive and often handmade, to allow the master himself to be on top of quality control.
The world is having a George Keburia moment, with half of Hollywood wearing his signature small sunglasses at the moment, and of course labels du moment Balenciaga and Vetements are run by Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia. Alexander has now added his own brand to a set of Georgian-flavoured fashion houses which are highly regarded, and eagerly followed, by fashion and art lovers from across the globe. Emphasizing sexuality, courage, femininity, and exclusive quality, he takes his craftsmanship on an international journey – a journey cradled in Georgia.
You were born in Tbilisi (where you get your inspiration), but are currently based in Moscow (where you found your passion). Your first collection was presented in Moscow, why did you decide to move your shows to Tbilisi?
Yes, I was born and raised in Tbilisi, but I realized that to develop my own business, I needed to go to Moscow, where there are more opportunities. It was in Moscow where I finally realized it was time to create my own brand. In Moscow, I do not participate in the fashion week, but I do my own shows. In Tbilisi, I make screenings in the framework of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, thanks to Sofia Chkonia, who was able to take the week to the highest level and help develop Georgian designers. Previously, there was no such opportunity to show the world how talented guys in Georgia are, and now thanks to Sofia, many have a chance to express themselves.
How is the Georgian fashion scene different from the Russian fashion scene, and what are the similarities?
In the Georgian fashion industry designers have great taste, rather than in Russia. Georgians have that level of perception, which is created thanks to the culture, the environment in which we grew up, attention to detail, and refinement. I believe that there is a huge supply of talents in Georgia, they only need to be shown to the world to be noticed.
Why do you think there has been such a global interest in ‘post-Soviet fashion’ in recent years?
Because the fashion is cyclical, and the moment of the post-Soviet period has come. The time we remember well when we were happy with the dimensionless sheepskin coats, sweaters, and jeans with an inflated waistline. Perhaps this is nostalgia for those times when, having acquired at least something of foreign production, we were happy.
Do you feel this ‘post-Soviet’ label has created more opportunities for designers from this region, or has it limited them instead?
I think that many people really chased this wave, but many people stayed in their direction. Not everyone is able to stay in the trend – some brand is in the lead this season, and some other will be in the next. A vivid example is Gucci, which was replaced by Balenciaga and Vetements.
What can the rest of the world learn from Georgian and/or Russian fashion?
That sense of taste which Georgian designers possess, their authenticity.
Experimenting, quality control, sexuality, and signature accessories (which we absolutely love!) are central to your own vision and collections. Which other designers would you suggest us to follow at the moment?
I can not say the names, because they are my colleagues and many of them are my friends. I will say one thing, that in Georgia there are excellent masters, high quality, technology, and conscientious designers.