CHRONICLES

KHEVSUR WOMEN IN FASHION AND VOGUE

KHEVSUR WOMEN

IN FASHION AND VOGUE

by Elene Buachidze

We call this rubric “Contemporary heritage”. IERI team is in a constant search of some obvious connections between modernity and traditions, and that’s how we are trying to prove that Georgian heritage is still making a huge impact on designers (not only Georgian ones, by the way) and is influencing modern fashion scene. 

This first article is devoted to Khevsureti — a beautiful, sparsely populated region in northern Georgia.

WHO ARE KHEVSURS?

Khevsurs — a small Caucasian ethnographical group, that lives in remote highlands of Georgia in the East. They have different traditions and customs, uniting those of Christian and Muslim religions in one unique mixture.There is a theory (or is it a legend?) that somewhere between 1095 and 1492 band of Crusaders, lost their way and eventually found themselves in the Caucasus, where they settled. Those knights might have been (or not) the forefathers of the Khevsurs

Khevsurian Woman 1881

Their dramatic mode of life, distinctive traditions have always been the subject of scientific research and the source of inspiration for writers and poets.
Knows for being strong and proud, but very good at rhyming verses. “Real treasure of Khevsureti are the local people — hospitable, proud Khevsuris, who treat their children like grown-ups and, even those resettled in the lowland, remain devoted to the moral principles of mountain dwellers… Khevsureti without Khevsuris will be a beauty spot only — very picturesque, but deserted and dull”, — says Georgian folklorist Amiran Arabuli. Probably the most proud women in the world — Khevsuris — have always been respected by men because of their pride and strength. Men had to prove in a horse race that they were brave enough and worthy of a woman they loved —  the tradition of horse races is still widespread.

But this is not an ethnographic research after all.
We are here in a desperate search of evidence, proving how important Georgian heritage is in the world of fashion. And that’s why we need to take a closer look at Khevsur costumes. 

WHAT DO KHEVSURS WEAR?

The clothes and the details of Khevsuris were produced mainly of the home-made wool (toil). Women wove these fabrics in special places (saksolo).  Tailors tried to make clothing both practical and beautiful, symbolising the spiritual world and surrounding nature.
The most significant aspect of a Georgian woman’s talavari (costume) is its pattern and embroidery. A vivid example of the above is the Khevsur woman’s dress (sadiatso).
Sadiatso was called ‘sanamuso’ (symbol of chastity). The front opening ment should be kept fastened until childbirth. In mourning, it was worn inside out to hide the cheerful ornaments. It is impossible not to pay attention to the Khevsurian ornament, its really unique, rare and difficult to make.
Probably because of its uniqueness, the Khevsurian ornament can be found today with many of our favorite and very famous designers. The similarities are obvious and are conveyed in many ways. It is amazing, how these ornaments were made by khevsur women, who didn even know how to read, 100 and 200 years ago, and now we see the same ornaments on famous fashion weeks runways. 

Max Tilke Khevsur woman

Khevsurian costume

WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN INSPIRED BY KHEVSUR CLOTHES?

ETRO FALL-WINTER 2014/2015

«What made this collection stand apart from previous ones was the list of special pieces that women will want to pull from the sometimes-heady mix on the runway to wear and wear. Backstage the designer was talking about timelessness, and more than a handful of the coats and dresses here had the feeling of an exquisite vintage find: a copper and black dévoré velvet dress shot through with shimmery Lurex, an almost weightless silk chiffon number in a tapestry print woven with thick stripes of gold, a wool coat paneled here and there with intricate thread embroideries.»

 — VOGUE

VALENTINO SPRING-SUMMER 2016

– In 2016 Valentino spring-summer collection was shown at Paris Fashion week. Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli presented another stellar collection. Fashion magazines refer this work as a collection that will lodge in the memory of haute couture highs. Familiar embroidery is very suitable for collection, which takes us back centuries.
«We think every person coming here is an individual, and we can show that we can improve ourselves by understanding other cultures»

— Maria Grazia Chiuri for VOGUE

LOUIS VUITTON RESORT 2019

In Japan in 2018, a show by Louis Vuitton Resort collection was held, where you will also see similarities with Khevsurian carvings. This may be due to the fact that the collection is inspired by Eastern culture.
«Nicolas Gesquières most risk-taking yet at Louis Vuitton — among its many, many Japanise references it featured illustrated sequined dresses and guaranteed-hit Kabuki-eyed bags»

VOGUE

KTZ AUTUMN/WINTER 2014

Also macedonian designer Marjan Pejoski presented KTZ autumn-winter 2014 collection at Somerset House BFC Show Space at London Fashion Week, which is clearly inspired by Khevsurian motives.
«Considered as the most tribal of modern fashion labels, KTZ is not new to the game of appropriating ideas, looks and costumes from specific traditions: people who know their anthropology will remember how the brand’s A/W 2014 meanswear collection featured garments reminiscent of the costumes in Sota Managadze’s 1965 film Ballad of the Khevsurs (Xevsuruli Balada)»

— irenebrination

IERI team does not assume that all of these pieces were inspired by Georgian clothes, but it’s very thrilling to find some obvious visual similarities. 

Khevsur jackets are exclusive available offline at IERI flagship-store at Ghvinis Karkhana N1 / Wine Factory N1

IERI RECOMMENDS:

Close

Samoseli Pirveli Black Chokha

1,490.00 
A traditional long-sleeved Georgian coat with bullet storage in the front and hook and eye fastening 100% cotton
Close

Samoseli Pirveli Abkhazian Jacket

870.00 
Abkhazian velvet long sleeved jacket, with narrow shaped sleeves and cinched waist 100% cotton
Close

Samoseli Pirveli White Chokha

940.00 
A traditional long-sleeved Georgian coat with bullet storage in the front and hook and eye fastening 50% wool, 50% cotton
Close

Samoseli Pirveli Dark Red Dress

825.00 
An authentic Georgian long sleeved shirt dress in color dark red with button closure This particular style of the dress and the sleeves come from Racha 100% cotton