Act Up! Vetements SS19 Gets Irreverently Political

Act Up! Vetements SS19 Gets Irreverently Political

Notorious trickster Demna Gvasalia traces his roots in war-torn Georgia.

Notorious trickster Demna Gvasalia traces his roots in war-torn Georgia.

Text: SAMUEL ANDERSON

Demna Gvasalia’s latest collection for Vetements was a tonally slippery nod to various subcultures—from disenfranchised incarcerated populations of his native Georgia to the bondage-loving BDSM community. While the hyper-appropriative mix of prison-tattooed bodycon shirt and gimp masks evoked a post-apocalyptic, Mad Maxian vibe, the references were culled from Gvasalia’s early life in civil war-torn Georgia—an unusually biographical move for the irony-loving brand.

That introspection seems to have been catalyzed by similarities between Gvasalia’s upbringing and the current political reality in Europe, in which refugees from the conflict in Syria are seeking asylum in countries like France; in the early 90s, when he was a preteen, Gvasalia’s family was displaced by the ethnically motivated Georgian Civil War. Rather controversially, Gvasalia seemed to note these similarities by his choice in venue: a warehouse on the periphery of Paris not far from a crop of refugee encampments.

While the collection’s mix of political frankness and aesthetic trickstering may not have resonated with everyone, the show wasn’t completely cynical; Gvasalia’s choice in models, mostly street-cast from his native Georgia, reflected Georgia’s ascendant fashion scene and youth culture—and the fact that out of conflict can come creativity.

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