A few highlights from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi at The Factory Tbilisi directed by the founder, Sofia Tchkonia

Dear Shaded Viewers,

I just got back from the first Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi since COVID. Sofia Tchkonia is the founder and creative director of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi. She was born in Tbilisi, Georgia and began her career in fashion in the 1990s, working in public relations and marketing for various fashion brands. We met in Paris when she interviewed me for one of her TV shows. It was the beginning of a long friendship.

In 2015, Tchkonia launched Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi, which quickly became one of the most important fashion events in Eastern Europe and a hub for emerging designers. The event features runway shows, presentations, and installations from both established and up-and-coming designers from Georgia and beyond. The fashion industry started looking at Tbilisi when Demna became the face behind Vetements. The new star from Georgia is definitely Irakli Rusadze, the self-taught designer and founder of Situationist. He created a new menswear collection that celebrates bold, free, gender non-confirming characters that stand against oppressive forces faced with Russia’s problematic stance towards its independent neighboring  states.

Under Tchkonia’s leadership, the event has gained recognition from the international fashion community and has become a platform for designers to showcase their work to a global audience. In addition to promoting emerging designers, Tchkonia is also known for her efforts to support sustainable and ethical fashion practices.

As for the most recent edition of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi, which ended on May 8th, 2023, it featured collections from over 30 designers and attracted fashion industry professionals from around the world including i-D, Dazed, Vogue Business among others. The event showcased a diverse range of styles and aesthetics, from avant-garde to more commercial designs, and included both womenswear and menswear collections.

In addition to the catwalks I assisted on the jury for BeNext which  is a competition aimed at discovering and supporting  young designers from Georgia and other countries. The selected designers get the opportunity to showcase their collections during the fashion week, and the winner of the competition receives a prize that includes financial support and mentorship from industry professionals. IED offers a two week course at their Milan school. Davit Zhorzholiani was awarded this prize and his work was appreciated by all. A bit later I will be able to announce the winners of the other awards.

We also had a walk through old Tbilisi, a trip to the Gardenia Shevardnadze where we discovered the craft of embroidery as well as an amazing garden and lovely hotel. In addition to all the above events there was a showroom, an exhibition of Archives Project and solo talks and of course the wonderful dinners and getting to know both the ‘locals’ and the international guests.

The next edition will take place at The Factory Tbilisi in late October.



Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.