From May 19 -to May 24, Georgian Fashion exhibition week took place in Tokyo, introducing some of the most talented Georgian Fashion designers to the Japanese market.
Project ArtBeat participated with the photographic exhibition Mother Georgia by Brian Griffin, a photographic series shot in Tbilisi for Comme des Garçons in 1989.
Already Comme des Garçons, one of the leading fashion brands in Japan, got inspired by the Georgian painter Pirosmani and asked Brian Griffin to shoot a photography series in then still Soviet Georgia in 1989.
Styled by Kawakubo and photographed by Griffin, the team worked with local peasants and did not use any professional models. Often wearing their own clothing, sometimes only supplemented by a CDG piece, the concept of the shoot was to combine and blend Comme des Garçons’s design with locals' own.
Griffin recalls the unusual setting for the photoshoot in the country on the verge of obtaining its independence from the Soviet Union (Georgia became independent in 1991). He recalls being under surveillance, while their hotel host listened in on their private phone conversations as well as witnessing people destroying statues of Stalin, animal sacrilege going on in the yard of the church while shooting the campaign and having a feast with the locals after the photoshoot was done.
The iconic photograph of the statue Mother Georgia was shot by Griffin the next day, after Kawakubo had already gone back to Japan, but became an image central to the story.
While Griffin did not identify as a fashion photographer at the time, he found an artistic connection with Kawakubo and it resulted in one of the most special campaigns done for Comme des Garçons.
Brian Griffin (b. 1948, Birmingham, England) has had a long and diverse career in photography. Proclaimed as ‘The Photographer of the Decade’ by The Guardian newspaper in 1989, he has worked as a film director making TV commercials, music videos and short films and has published several books. His works are part of collections of museums such as Victoria and Albert Museum, National Portrait Gallery in London and Art Museum Reykjavik in Iceland amongst others. He is famous for his work in portraiture and for shooting album covers. He has shot iconic artists like Kate Bush, Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney and Iggy Pop. His wide portfolio of album covers includes musicians like The Clash, Queen, Placebo, Brian Eno and Echo and the Funnymen.