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the show begins

Georgia is on their way to ushering in a new era for her citizens as they are—as I post this—entering into a new visa-free regime program with the European Union. But they’ve already been coming in in all sorts of different spheres, like in fashion.

A month doesn’t go by where I don't see another article about Georgian fashion designers breaking into the market, whether it's in Vogue magazine, W, or People. Not that I read any of those, I write this only because that’s what I see on Facebook and in fashion, I casually let Facebook memes control my reality. But those articles are out there, nearly all of them titled “Georgia On My Fashion Mind” or some other derivation of the song-title-that-will-never-die. There’s Demna Gvasalia, who recently won a CFDA award, and Avtandil, who apart from being the local oligarchs’ fashion weapon of choice, also has clothing lines on sale across the globe.

baggy is big

Being in such a position as I am, I found my way to a runway walk in the Prague Fashion Week, which featured Irakli Rusadze’s work. Rusadze got a young start making clothes at 13 and debuted at the Georgian Fashion Week in 2010. Since then, he's found his own brand Situationist, which caught some fame when Bella Hadid wore one of his outfits.

Most of his pieces seemed to revolve around baggy coats that were admittedly pretty sharp. A huge step up from the usual Tbilisi fair of puffy ski jackets passed on as prima donna wear anyway. The models wore nothing but the clothes, so I wondered if that’s how Rusadze envisioned women wearing his designs.

red until the start

I didn’t know quite what to expect from the show. We were escorted up an elevator by a skinny fashionista wearing all black, with a black faux-fur cape, and a headset like Madonna might wear at a concert. He brought us up to the third floor of the Kotva building in downtown Prague, which had been re-purposed for this fashion extravaganza, with floors of white light, white walls, and a glowing white desk where they were taking people’s tickets. We had a VIP pass though, so our caped crusader brought us right out to the runway and to our seats. Everything in the actual event space was glowing red, waiting for the event to start.

Hunger is the title of my upcoming book

The runways wove around like a freshly done spaghetti noodle, which is to say, fittingly like a letter in the Georgian alphabet. A single row of stools were on either side, where sat buyers, reporters, and other randomly invited guests like yours truly. We sat down on our stools and I got to have a look at what was happening around me.

people waiting, people walking

People fell into a couple of categories. There were a lot of pretty normal looking people just milling about. I guessed those were mostly journalists or random guests. Then there were people with crazy hair and platform shoes, busy taking hundreds of selfies of themselves to post on their Instagram accounts. I’m going to assume those were bloggers. And then finally, the people in truly expensive clothes that had the sort of skeletal, drawn appearance of the late David Bowie, though with dead, disinterested eyes, eyes that had seen too many atrocities on the bodies of the ill-fitted. Those must have been the buyers.

useful gown for picnics

The red turned to white. The people took their seats. A droning thump of house began. “Relax,” I told myself. The show was about to begin.

I didn’t really know what to expect. Secretly I was hoping for a bunch of Irina Shayk lookalikes wearing only pants. But then what happened was incredible. Something entirely almost not noteworthy. There were moving, robotic mannequins wearing clothes, rolled on out one after the other. Each woman looked gaunt and starved, stomping across the floor as though their next morsel of food depended on it. Their lifeless eyes what becomes of one after years of starvation, drugs, and being stared at by numbers of people until everything becomes a numb sensation, until you become a numb sensation yourself.

They are used as a mannequin is used, it really made no difference if their skin was plastic or flesh.

hospital mode

Piece after piece came about, hanging loosely as any clothes must on such models. What was exceptionally striking was how almost all of the models looked as though they were cast from the same mold, curious clones of an original idea of womanhood.

And then my thought, of how at least I’m told this is the idealization of the woman’s body.

rethinking career choices

It was my first fashion show, so of course I would be shocked by this. But looking around, no one else was. These all were fashion show veterans. They’ve been to so many of these that no doubt they were completely desensitized by the affair. They knew these models weren’t human, they were just models. They didn’t need to sympathize with Bulimia Patient No. 3 or Anorexia Patient No. 12. To them it was all a normalized affair, as it would have been to an SS escorting their own models along for the end of line process. That is possibly an exaggeration, but the process if very much the same.

Eliminate the human standard at any point and we humans can do true wonders to each other. But then, situation normal. The lights dimmed, the music stopped, the cell phones were out and selfies renewed. The model humans and their rags were forgotten in the oncoming deluge of self-obsession, which too, was a normal thing.

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