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BERHASM is the Georgian fashion brand fighting for freedom

Their new collection, CHAOS AND NEW ORDER, is a call to action.

Text: Juule Kay

The world is changing, and with it, a new generation of trailblazers is taking over. In our monthly series E-MERGING, we introduce the people adding to the cultural moment with their creative minds, new ideas and unique approaches. It’s a glimpse behind the scenes, a way to dig deeper and look beyond the picture-perfect outcome we’re swamped with every day.

For almost a month, tens of thousands of demonstrators have been taking over Tbilisi’s streets as the last attempts to prevent the passing of the so-called “foreign agents” bill–without success. The “Kremlin-style” law does not only harm Georgia’s democratic freedom, but also their hopes to join the European Union. Embedded in a tense political climate, the second edition of Culture Week Tbilisi set itself to showcase the rich tapestry of the local art scene while fostering cultural exchange and collaboration in times of uncertainty. Through exhibitions, performances, film screenings and fashion shows, Georgian as well as international artists were able to showcase their visions in order to process complex emotions through creativity.

One of them is Beso Turazashvili, the founder and creative director of the Tbilisi-based fashion brand and collective BERHASM. What started as a line of t-shirts and hoodies for friends to wear in the club back in 2018 evolved into a contemporary fashion brand with 150 unique styles every season. “In the beginning, we heavily collaborated with different photographers and artists, always playing with fire and controversial ideas,” reminisces Turazashvili, who launched the brand at Paris Fashion Week in an underground sex club.

At Culture Week Tbilisi, he and his team presented BERHASM’s new collection, CHAOS AND NEW ORDER, which was designed as a call to action. “We wanted to show this chaos that is happening right now, not only here but globally,” he says about the motivation behind it. The models were strutting down the fog-shrouded staircase towards an improvised runway in one of the city’s oldest movie theatres. The techno-infused soundtrack was a powerful manifesto, starting the show with the words “It’s time for resistance”. And even the hair and make-up were a nod to what’s been happening outside in the streets. “We did these red crying eyes because of the tear gas and pepper spray used by the police at the protests, while the wet hair look resembled the water cannon they used to make people leave,” he continues. Overall, the collection itself felt like a club-infused yet heartbreaking love letter to Tbilisi with its recurring ancient Georgian symbol called “Borjgali” (Ge: ბორჯღალი), which stands for eternity and the endless sun.

It became part of everyday life for him and his team to join the protests after work to march peacefully for freedom. “Despite all of what’s happening nowadays, we find a playground to be together and create no matter what,” explains the Georgian fashion designer, who speaks loudly about social causes, covering political and social issues through their collections and campaigns. For Turazashvili, silence is compliance.

Heavily inspired by real life and personal memories, he wants people to know what’s happening in his homeland right now: “We were the first country to leave the Soviet Union after the Baltics. Our love for freedom and our love for our country is very strong. I just hope that people will see through all the propaganda and understand what is really happening.”

What does freedom mean to you in today’s world?
Going to bed and waking up with a clear mind, without any thoughts or panic attacks.

If your life had a soundtrack, what would it be?
Francis Lai’s soundtrack to the French movie “A Man and a Woman”.

Open your phone. What does your last message say?
My mother just sent me a message regarding the show, saying that one of the models looks like Pirosmani’s Margarita.

Your new collection was shot in an amusement park. What’s the one ride you wouldn’t skip?
I hate amusement parks. They make me so uncomfortable, and that was also the reason why I chose them. Everything I can’t control creates a certain discomfort in me, and as we all know, you cannot control anything.

If you wrote a love letter to Tbilisi, how would you start it?
I would ask Tbilisi to stay strong because she’s been ruined and taken over too many times. Be with us, and stay with us. We shall win!


Backstage photos: Katrin Kuznetsova

Published May 23, 2024.