The FINANCIAL — Georgian models say their professional work is just a means to make some extra pocket money. The owner of fashion agency Image Centre Ia Kitsmarishvili explains how she faces the problem of backward mentality in Georgia. The majority of models start a family soon after taking the first steps in their career.
“In Georgia we have a lot of traditions that hamper the development of the fashion industry. One of the main reasons is the tradition of getting married early. We have had a lot of examples where we have spent a lot of energy and finances in making girls in to models only for them to suddenly decide to get married,” Ia Kitsmarishvili, President of Image Centre, told The FINANCIAL.
“I had an invitation from Italy but I did not accept it because my boyfriend was against the plan. I couldn’t leave my son and my boyfriend,” Eka Gagnidze, model of fashion agency Natali, says.
Gagnidze worked as a model for two years.
At the age of 19 she went to the model agency Natali and after a month left Georgia for Turkey. Gagnidze says that from the beginning of her career she faced problems with her husband.
“My husband gave me an ultimatum to make a choice between my career and my private life and I chose the first. From my early childhood I wished to become a model; to work in front of photo cameras and my dream came true.”
Gagnidze explains why Georgians choose marriage when they are at a quandary over their careers and private lives. “When a girl is not married and has no experience of family life she thinks differently. I think that girls who have been married and have some experience are more oriented at improving their careers. In Georgia a fashion career has no real perspectives, that’s why girls choose to get married instead.”
Kitsmarishvili thinks that the fashion industry in Georgia is not in stagnation. “The fashion industry in Georgia is developing slowly. There are different reasons for this; components that are important to develop a fashion industry. We have no fashion houses, fashion magazines like ELLE, Vogue or Bazaar. It’s important to develop the country in general to building up to a fashion industry.”
“Georgian designers are not able to attend fashion shows. Local designers are always inviting old faces and aren’t trying to find new ones. This fact also hampers development of the fashion industry. We face the reality that different components of the fashion industry don’t support each other. Our agency had offered a model to different magazines but they refused our offers saying that they are collaborating with other fashion agencies. Such methods are destructive for the fashion business,” Kitsmarishvili notes.
“Against the background of a lack of support the fashion market in Georgia is developing slowly. Image Center is working hard in the direction of sending Georgian models abroad and to an international market. This is harder than just teaching a girl to walk down a runway. The models have to satisfy international standards, parameters, educational skills. They should know a foreign language and there are a lot of other components making them attractive to foreign agents of fashion houses. The main factor is the ability to live independently,” Kitsmarishvili declares.
“Another reason for Georgian models’ free lifestyles is that the owners of fashion agencies are not strict enough. The fashion agency where I work is not able to satisfy me financially and I have to look for alternative jobs,” Gagnidze says.
As Gagnidze notes, before the crisis fashion shows were held in Georgia about three times a week whereas now it’s just once a month. Gagnidze complains that local designers invite models to take part in fashion shows without offering payment.
Currently Gagnidze is working in the TV show Va-Bank (Stake Everything) the analog of US TV show Deal or no Deal aired on Rustavi 2. She also works for Comedy Club show.
“The director of the fashion agency where I work was against my participation in TV shows but I made the independent decision that it was better for me. I have also had some offers from auto dealers and maybe I will accept them.”
“Georgians don’t have a culture of responsibility,” Kitsmarishvili, Image center, says.
“All my models are signing a contract which they are obligated not to break. The contract means that during any concrete period they should work according to our orders. I have not sued my models ever, but I will do it if it needed,” Kitsmarishvili says.
For the development of the fashion industry veteran Georgian models established a fashion association recently. It is headed by Irina Onashvili, Miss Georgia 2003. The association announced last week about their plans to organize a Miss University contest. “It will help to break the stereotype that models are stupid,” Onashvili told The FINANCIAL.
“Actually models are so busy with their work that it’s hard to find time to read books. The working time of a model sometimes lasts for up to two to three days non-stop,” Onashvili, founder of Fashion Assosiation, notes.
Onashvili underlines the reasons for the low level of the fashion industry in Georgia. “There are not many model agencies, or indeed designers to hire the models. Our association will be focused on evolving the fashion industry in Georgia. Fashion is one of the most leading industries of developed countries which is why we should encourage it by our activity.”
“Lack of interest towards a fashion career among Georgian models is caused by financial difficulties. Georgian models by their work just get pocket money really,” Onashvili says.
In Kitsmarishvili’s words Onashvili had the chance to become a successful model but she chose family instead.
“Onashvili received serious invitations from the U.S. but she refused them.”
International model competition Elite Model Look helps Image Center to send models abroad.
“The winner of the 2007 contest was Tamta Shedania. She was invited to Paris, Istanbul and Prague. Now she works in Hong Kong. Ann Kovach became the winner of the 2008 contest. Kovach spent three months in Paris,” Kitsmarishvili notes.
“Usually models are estimated by the number of pictures they have had in fashion magazines. The main work is to collect pictures in their portfolio and then start working as a model. There are a lot of pseudo fashion agencies which are just using girls for their own profit. They also abase our reputation which is why later girls face some problems in going abroad. They are frightened,” Kitsmarishvili says.
Written By Madona Gasanova