Material Surrealism: An interview with designer George Keburia

Culture — 26.08.20

Words by Hannah Makonnen

George Keburia captured the eyes of many by framing those very eyes with his signature cat-eye sunglasses back in 2017. Since then, his brand has evolved into a visual and thematic overload of the feminine, with a playful attitude towards exaggerated shapes, colours, and styles. A self-taught designer from Tbilisi, Georgia, he presents each collection as an idea of a woman–a character as such–with each piece conveying a narrative of the life lead beneath the material. The overtly referential pieces tap into a plethora of association for the viewer, due to the flavours of various eras running through the work, giving it a deeply nostalgic feel.

The release of the Cruise 2021 collection saw a new vision relayed. Here, Culture Editor, Hannah Makonnen gets to find out what ideas lie behind the designer and his surreal collection.

What first got you into fashion and when did you start designing?

I have been curious about fashion aesthetics since my early childhood. My mom’s OTTO magazines are some of my first fashion-related memories and I have always been sketching at the back of my notebooks since elementary school. But it was 2010 when I started designing more seriously, that’s when I designed my first capsule collection for a local newcomers contest.


In order to create such a conceptual collection for Cruise 2021, what was the main inspiration?

For me, the creative process always comes from a battle of many emotions up until the moment when I see a satisfactory result. Many references inspired the Cruise collection, but my main motivator was the fact that I should never stop working and creating.


The collaboration with Jam Project Agency really brought to life the surrealist nature of the pieces, it was as though a story was being told. What was the vision behind these digital capsules?

This is our second collaboration with Jam Project, working with them is always very interesting. For the Cruise 2021 campaign, we recreated 2 hotel room setups for her cruise vacation: a motel type of setting and a luxury suite. While working on a collection, I love to create the illusion of a character as much as possible. In this, the model is a portrait of a woman, sometimes she doesn’t want to interact with hotel surroundings. Other times she’s going through her wardrobe, trying on looks, dressing up, and going downstairs for dinner. 


You describe your collections to be a “modern interpretation of femininity”, and the Cruise 2021 collection seems to be just that. Combining broad-shouldered silhouettes, feather trims, and the anonymity of the models faces hidden in draping hats, providing a somewhat un-gendered fantasy. Where do the pieces lie within the spectrum between the masculine and feminine?

I always aim to combine masculine and feminine elements in my collections, but in terms of Cruise 2021, the pieces definitely fall more on the feminine side of the gender spectrum. Although the collection as a whole might appear very similar stylistically, for me, every look has an individual and different personality to it. 


If this collection were a person, what kind of person would they be?

She’s a luxurious lady of fashion who leads a completely independent life. She loves being home alone and travelling, as of course, she needs somewhere to show off the clothes that she’s been collecting. She loves pets, yachts, and day drinking.


What was the experience of releasing a line during a pandemic?

This is actually my very first Cruise collection. Working on any collection is technically a very hectic and stressful process by nature, but even more so during a global pandemic! Naturally, there were issues with delivering necessary materials, etc. And like many other brands, we had to create a virtual presence which would illustrate the aesthetic without a physical showroom. Despite everything, the circumstances gave me huge motivation.


What should we look forward to next?

I am currently working on the new collection and we are also working on creating a sustainable fashion strategy in order to minimize our footprint on the planet. 

 You can stay up-to-date with George Keburia’s collections via Instagram as well as his website.