Monday, July 09, 2012

TRADITIONAL FASHION: Samoseli Pirveli – Georgian National Clothes in Vogue. By Maka Lomadze (

( As the old saying goes, everything new is a well-forgotten oldie. This is the motto of ‘Samoseli Pirveli’ founders, the people who are desperately in love with everything national and Georgian. We believe that the uniqueness of a nation lies not in the quality of adopting something foreign but rather in cherishing your own traditional merits and treasures. Such treasure is our national clothing. If earlier it used to be only associated with Georgian National dancers, preserved as stage costumes, recently national dresses seem to be gradually becoming fashionable in weddings and other festive events too. The attire that used to be the everyday garments for a century-old Georgian seems to be more or less regaining its cultural significance.
The name Samoseli Pirveli (meaning First Garment) comes from the Bible, namely, from the passage about the insatiable son. Ana Ninua, Director General of the shop explains that their choice was made because of its irreplaceable significance for the Georgian dressing culture. Old Georgians used to wear Chokhas for everyday use, the origins of this is not well known. Clothes differed according to the strata and regions of Georgia. The founders are great admirers of the Georgian culture – businessman Levan Vasadze and a friend of his Luarsab Togonidze. ‘At the beginning the shop focused on man’s clothing only - national Chokhas but later on we began to produce woman’s clothing as well. This is when I joined the team,’ Ana Ninua confesses in exclusive talks with Georgian Journal.

In this challenging but somewhat frightening process of globalization this is probably of utmost importance not to forget and highlight national virtues. As for clothes, probably India is one of the most traditional ones with its Saris. Japan too has its traditional clothes. Now maybe one day we also regain our clothes for everyday use? Who knows? But personally I was really stunned by the graciousness and mysterious splendor of dresses and sincerely wished to buy one for my wedding. Visit Samoseli Pirveli and you will want to visit it again. The atelier of Samoseli Pirveli was established in 2008 and only two years later were the shops opened. Purportedly, Georgian national clothes were very much forgotten here. It was only used on stages but not in life.

It is somehow logical that within these last years the popularity of Georgian national clothes is increasing among Georgians. They become more and more stuck to their traditions and prefer Chokas to the European ties and suits to wear as bridegrooms. Accordingly, having accompanied their future husbands, young ladies seem to be seduced too and often buy Georgian national dresses. ‘But Georgians buy our clothes for other festivals too. We have for instance Akhalukhi that can well be used for everyday wear,’ Ana adds.

tschocha-partySamoseli Pirveli offers all kinds of traditional clothes and shoes, as well as traditional hoods and accessories. Visit it and you will find yourself in true Georgia and discover how old Georgian princes and princesses or ordinary people living in different regions of Georgia used to dress up.

As for shoes old style is preserved here and they also make contemporary shoes with old details. Traditional Chokhas were mainly destined for wars and that is why it has the small containers for bullets, (kilebi) but later on these containers became decorative utensils. Chokhas were preceded by Kalakuri Kaba (city dress) that was worn in the town.

Lately, the exhibition of Samoseli Pirveli was opened in France within the Georgian days, presented by the dancers of Rustavi ensemble. Dancers are usual models for these clothes. The exhibition that was accompanied by the podium show deserved admiration of the French spectator. An interested person can choose and order clothes from the catalogue. Reportedly, individual orders are possible too, but only with the consultations of the shop’s personnel in order not to exclude the Georgian national details that underline the profile of Samoseli Pirveli. But mainly, clients seem to be quite happy with the choice they offer. ‘We of course can make interpretations in color or material from the models that we have in shops or in the atelier. “We restore the clothes from the old photos, from the relevant literature too. It is not that we copy them, but we take the same pattern and make some slight alterations. The one thing is to design clothes for the stage – I am a stage painter myself and I know what it means – but when you want the clothes to fit to everyday wear, it is a completely different thing,‘ Ana Ninua concludes.


Saint Facetious said...

I've long thought chokhas need to be brought back in style. It was one of my biggest disappointments when moving to Georgia - all the fake Dolce and Gabbana and Chanel clothes being the rave when a much more beautiful, national dress was long forgotten.

Hans Heiner Buhr said...

Saint, start to wear your Chokha daily, it is what I would like to do, to get a "work chokha"

Anonymous said...

How is this "traditional" Georgian clothing? Georgians are not native to the region, this type of clothing is indigenous to the North Caucasus, and only to Abkhazians and Adyghe (aka the Circassians). This style of dress is called the CHERKESSKA for a reason. You can "Georgianize" it as much as you like, but this is real Georgian clothing. What a pity you must lie to the world even about this as well! Why does Georgia deny its Eastern roots? Shame on you!

Does this look like a Caucasian person or style of dress to you?
Georgians, no matter how much you lie and cover the truth, we will always expose you.

Iber said...

Dear Anonymous user,
Do you have investigated the origins of Chokha? What is the oldest Chokha that you have seen belonging to Abkhazians or Adyghe?

Do you really believe that Caucasians have worn the garment since the ancient times? If so, I'm sad to break your feelings. Chokha, as its present form is no older than 2 or 3 centuries. Of course there were other variations before that but not Chokha in its present sense. And as far as I know, its exact origin is yet to be found. Though, all the Caucasian nations consider it as their national costume these days.

Concerning the subject of who is native to the region, most of the scholars consider that Georgians inhabit Caucasus at least since the neolithic period.

Whether we lived or not in the Caucasus before that is a matter of speculation. Georgian (and other) scholars have proposed various theories about it, you can check them.

And also, noone knows whether Abkhazians, Adyghe and others are native to this region and if we cannot be sure about Georgians, then we definitely cannot be sure about the other peoples of the Caucasus.

Yours Sincerely,

Shalva said...

Iber Thank you!

Issues like this are matter of discussion based on facts and what majority of scholars agree on in general.
And not hatred speeches such as 'georgianize' and 'we will expose you'.

Evil always like to accuse...and disguise thyself.


Anonymous said...

I'm Jewish with origins in the Caucasus region my grand father also wore a kind of chokha during special occasion and a sheepskin hat.
I would like to get on of these any suggestions on retailers?