An interview with Salome Potskhverashvili from Situationist

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Man may work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done.

During the last Paris Fashion Week, most fashion labels decided to opt in for a more digital approach to presenting their collections due to the strict limitations placed upon their physical shows. Some lines provided us cardboard VR headsets. Others got creative with the use of marionette dolls. A few fashion houses spent their entire runway budget on highly-produced cinematic features, while some smaller lines took a more subtle approach to production, sharing their collection alongside an overaching storyline rather than with fireworks and pomp & circumstance.

One of my favorite videos, of which there were many to watch, came from the atelier of Tbilisi-based fashion line Situationist. They shot their collection with a near-voyeuristic approach, on the streets of the Georgia capital, with models walking alongside and intermingling with the locals. Seeing these garments worn on the very streets they were created allowed for a much greater appreciation and awareness of the atelier’s inspiration. It was a behind-the-scenes glimpse into what was making Situationist tick.

The film is shot by art director Salome Potskhverashvili. After watching the collection, I was romanticising 80s floral prints atop shoulder pads. It all worked and I wanted to connect with her. I reached out, asking if she would give me a bit more information on what her own personal environment during quarantine was like leading up to directing the new Spring/Summer 2021 presentation of Situationist. She also shared some behind the scenes images of the shoot, as well as from one of her current projects of women going about their daily routines and chores as normal during the lockdown.

 

 

Can you give me a little backdrop on where you grew up?

I grew up in a small spot on the world map, in the same place as I live in now, in a completely different reality. The capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, was a different place 24 years ago when I was born. Since then, we have been growing and changing together.

Who are the general style icons in Georgia? 

I love to observe people in the streets. What catches my eye is the authenticity in their choice of clothes. For me, style icons are the people who don’t put so much effort into looking stylish nor think too much into what they’re wearing. Stylish Georgians just naturally look amazing and I can feel their confidence and ease when they pass by.

Where did the inspiration come from for this collection?

Tbilisi, where the Situationist atelier is based, is boiling with a constant clash of cultures from different regions all over Georgia. This collection captures an elegant essence, the purity and the manners of dressing. It’s very sensitive and personal, yet hopeful and timeless. In my personal opinion, SS21 is one of the strongest collections throughout the history of Situationist.

Did you watch many movies during quarantine? Did you read any books? I wonder what was on your mind when you began formulating this video.

I watched and rewatched documentaries about nature. Reminding myself that there’s so much to explore in our planet’s diversity. I’m also fascinated by the skills and bravery of people behind the cameras shooting extreme scenes of wildlife, so I examined their behind the scenes tactics.

I went through some of my 10-year-old brother’s readings about tropical forests and fungi. Also Native American tales, tribal myths and legends really impressed me.

Situationist has had its digital debut at Paris Fashion Week. While generating different ideas for video content, first thing that came to my mind was to expose the origin, where it all comes from. The idea is simple but compelling and very important for the first presentation. Situationist atelier is located in the center of Tbilisi. People who walk and work around the street always inspired and affected me. So I decided not to go far and started shooting directly in the street without script or any special equipment. I just had my camera and a few ideas in the head. My goal was to keep everything as natural and real as possible. The most outstanding approach to present the collection, was staying honest and true. The film reveals the surreal reality that Georgian people live in, the harshness and tenderness that we all experience everyday. The film also shows an example of how two very different worlds coexist and intersect. The music composed for the film is sublime, it reflects the emotions of the whole street.

What is a movie you could watch over and over again? 

Jim Shvante. It’s a silent documentary filmed in 1930, in Soviet Georgia. This phenomenal film tells a story about the people of Svaneti facing difficult living conditions in an isolated village in the mountains. I find its way of storytelling absolutely unique and each scene thoroughly exquisite.

Have you made any other short films, or have plans to make more?

I have been shooting and editing videos & experimental short films for years. Fashion filmmaking has been a new and interesting encounter for me.

During quarantine, I was spending hours by my window. The landscape is covered in concrete buildings. I kept observing people having cigarettes on their balconies, or daydreaming by their windows. My attention was especially drawn to the women who had been working all day long to keep their families fed and clean. They were doing laundry and hanging the clothes out to dry, cleaning windows, sweeping balconies, watering plants… Everyday, the same. I felt great respect and admiration towards them. I had an enormous urge to document all of it and to share these women’s daily routines during lockdown. The video is entitled: ‘Man may work from sun to sun, but women’s work is never done’. I have several projects that I’m planning to release online soon. In the future, I would love to shoot a silent black & white film about lonely shoes.

 

Below, find a series of film stills from Salome’s quarantine project, ‘Man may work from sun to sun, but women’s work is never done’ as well as the most recent Situationist collection video with music by Giorgi Kancheli

Text by Janna Shaw
Photos Courtesy of Salome Potskhverashvili

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