Championing designers from Georgia, Poland, Russia and Ukraine, KOIBIRD curates a post-Soviet style edit for AW20.
For its sixth season, KOIBIRD continues to unpick a destination and represent its fashion, culture and heritage. This AW20 season, KOIBIRD unveils The Eastern Bloc edit. Where one may think the fashion scene in Europe is already saturated, with major style cities London, Paris and Milan, as well as a more recently established style-star, Copenhagen, KOIBIRD highlights the burgeoning style scene in the former Eastern Bloc.
Demna Gvasalia, Vetements co-founder, Balenciaga creative director and established Georgian designer, is graced with putting this region on the proverbial fashion map. But KOIBIRD seeks to look beyond streetwear and its slogan tees. Instead it will focus on its Soviet history - especially that of the 80s, with its notions of communist utilitarianism and the underground club scene - and partner it with doily fabrics and prairie-style collars that allude to Eastern European folklore.
And who better to migrate the old Eastern Bloc to London than former Yugoslavian-native and KOIBIRD founder, Belma Gaudio? ‘It is a very exciting hub of talent, with the designers really embracing their culture, their past, and producing items that are fresh, unique, and very much hold their own against their Western counterparts,’ she comments.
Shop Magda Butrym
‘Historically the region wasn’t considered a fashion destination. However, its women are known for taking great care of their looks, and striving to always look beautiful, sexy and feminine, and wear dresses that are unapologetically glamorous. The power suiting is also very feminine yet super strong, sculptural and unique,’ which is exemplified in The Eastern Bloc edit.
Within the AW20 collection, expect conceptual tailoring from Matériel Tbilisi and Ukrainian label, Chakshyn (a KOIBIRD exclusive), who make a new name for power dressing with architectural silhouettes. As for your Christmas party attire, be prepared for a whole new approach that goes beyond your failsafe LBD. Anouki’s sequin pieces and Area’s crystal love heart details shimmer brighter than a disco ball, and Mach + Mach’s neon blazer dresses carry a distinctly 80s nostalgia. Think Sarah Jessica Parker circa 1988 fused with a sort of futuristic, pop energy. It’s the right amount of kitsch, done in the right way.
watch the season launch film
And clothing is just the half of it - accessories also have a major presence. Handbags this season are fundamentally minimalist and sleek, with a more international offering from Coperni, Staud and Mlouye. Rosantica bags on the other hand are anything but simplistic, with Russian roulette inspired gemstone clutch bags that exude the same sassiness as Sharon Stone in Casino. Sunglasses from Rowen Rose and Magda Butrym also riff off this OTT glamour. Think Back to the Future with a Lady Gaga soundtrack, with sci-fi oversized frames and crystal chain details.
The KOIBIRD store in Marylebone has gone through its usual transformation, embracing the chintz and layers of a typical home found across Eastern Europe’s granny houses. Frills, flounce and paintings depict folklore narratives and set the tone for season’s Eastern Bloc edit.
Shop Matériel Tbilisi
Considering transformations, in an ever-evolving industry landscape, sustainable measures appear to be at the forefront of our new designer’s minds. Eco vegan leather is frequently replacing animal leather – look to ready-to-wear pieces from Matériel Tbilisi and Rowen Rose, as well as accessories from Staud. Gaudio explains that ‘Eastern European factories have been manufacturing for big names for a long time, so the proximity to workshops and factories gives their own designers a quality and craftsmanship that many emerging fashion destinations do not have at their doorstep.’ Brands such as Magda Butrym are an example of this – the label has long been dedicated to supporting local craftsmanship studios. Which just demonstrates that these creatives embrace the avant-garde not only with their experimental designs, but in their forward-thinking approach to industry practises.
BRANDS TO KNOW
Who: Anouki Areshidze Founded: 2013 Country: Georgia (she was invited to show at Milan Fashion Week) What: Contemporary statement pieces in unexpected fabrics. What it means for your wardrobe: Move over Bottega there is a new disco ball inspired pant suit in town.
Who: Dima Chayun and Anton Yakshyn Founded: 2015 Country: Ukraine What: Borrowed-from-the-boys pieces infused with a 80s aesthetic. What it means for your wardrobe: Chain and pearl embellished t-shirts. Not new you say? We say nothing emphasizes an outfit than outlining it with a head-to-toe pearl necklace.
Who: Sisters Nina and Gvantsa Macharashvili
What: Pop party wear
What it means for your wardrobe: A glitter tuxedo jacket mixed with a skin tight mini dress in bright pink. Yes Cher, we will put one on hold for you.
Who: Magda Butrym
Country: Poland – the collection is still made from studios in Podhale, Silesia and Warsaw.
What: Hyper-feminine silhouettes and raw sex appeal.
What it means for your wardrobe: You’re going to bring sexy back in leather, snakeskin and high hems. Don’t miss her just-launched sunglasses, available at KOIBIRD.
Who: George Keburia
Founded: 2010 – his debut collection was awarded the ‘Best Newcomer’ Award at Tbilisi Fashion Week.
What: The ex-Materiel Tbilisi designer has cut his teeth in tailoring.
What it means for your wardrobe: Congrats! You got the coveted position at Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. Your new uniform? George Keburia’s razor-sharp, brightly coloured, bell boy-inspired suiting.
Who: A design collective currently headed up by Aleksandre Akhalkatsishvili and Lado Bokuchava.
Founded: It’s the premium line of Materia, which was established in 1949 as one of the oldest apparel manufacturers in Georgia.
What: 1980s tailoring and futuristic fabrics.
What it means for your wardrobe: Tailoring at its most interesting, with sculptural jackets, high-waist pleated pants and some serious satin work.