Using only what he finds in his kitchen cupboards
Cast your mind back to July of last year and you may recall Dazed Beauty introducing you to a Georgian designer by the name of Shalva Nikvashvili. Growing up in the former Soviet country not long after the Eastern Bloc had fallen, as a child Nikvashvili spent his time drawing endlessly and creating sculptures out of whatever he could find lying around his home.
Eventually, he turned his back on business school to enrol at an arts college, where he retaliated against Georgia’s heteronormative ideals of masculinity by creating esoteric, wearable designs that sat somewhere between art and fashion.
In the time since, little has changed, with Nikashvili becoming known for his wildly imaginative, often tongue-in-cheek art which delves into sexuality, technology, and the effects social media has on us – most recently, he created a series of Y2K era burner phone mouthguards for NY-based designer KeenKee, and turned himself into The Girl With the Garlic Earring for Dazed Beauty.
Now living in Belgium, like many of us around the world Nikvashvili is currently self-isolating, though the coronavirus has done little to dampen his creativity. In fact, his creative juices are in full flow, as he continues to dive into his kitchen cupboard for materials and inspiration.
Across Instagram over the course of the last few months, the designer has debuted a series of pants made from smoked cigarettes, red bell peppers, cotton Q-tips, and even Nutella and rainbow sprinkles, as well as #LouboutinChallenge-ready shoes that utilise empty Coke cans and egg boxes. Elsewhere, video tutorials see him transformed into fantastical DIY versions of Disney characters, classical art works, and, for those looking for love, ‘an attractive schnitzel’, his gravelly voice cracking with infectious laughter as he goes.
Here, we catch up with Nikvashvili to find out his dream isolation partner, how he’s staying creative, and whether or not he eats his creations when he’s finished with them.
Hey Shalva! Where are you spending isolation, and who are you spending it with?
Shalva Nikvashvili: I’m in Ghent, in Belgium, which is a very quiet but charming city. I like to be somewhere quiet to concentrate on my work: me and my husband recently moved into a very beautiful house where we can combine workplaces so finally for the first time ever I have somewhere I can do my own thing. It’s very messy – I call it Hell’s Paradise.
I can relate! How are you finding lockdown?
Shalva Nikvashvili: Honestly I think this is one of the best times of my life. I enjoy being isolated! Normally I work in retail as a sales advisor part time, but at the moment time is all mine and I don’t have to go somewhere just to pay my bills. I’m a bit scared about when normality is back because I enjoy waking up and going to bed with only thoughts of what I’ll create tomorrow in my head.
If you could spend isolation with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Shalva Nikvashvili: Oh I would definitely spend my isolation with Edie Bouvier Beale and her mom Edith from Grey Gardens. I adore them without knowing them in person. The isolation gave me space to read some books about them. My fave one is called My Life at Grey Gardens: 13 Months and Beyond by Lois Wright and perfectly describes their life.
Tell me a bit about what you’ve been up to creatively: the attractive schnitzel made me laugh so much…
Shalva Nikvashvili: That honestly was my fave one too (laughs). I just woke up one morning a few weeks ago and it was beautiful and sunny outside, and I had some coffee and decided to play a vinyl by the B52s. I decided to do a tutorial but in my own way, and be sharp and funny, or to say what I think in a funny way because that’s the easiest way to be truthful. I basically just use what we have at home to create things and if it’s food for dinner I use it before it’s cooked.
Are you feeling creative in general?
Shalva Nikvashvili: Sometimes I feel too creative! It’s quite an issue for me because every day I have new ideas every day and I want to put my hands on everything at the same time.
Where do you find inspiration when you’re feeling uninspired?
Shalva Nikvashvili: Observing people, observing the world, politics, celebrities, my own life. Just walking on the street and seeing someone eat ice cream in a very disgusting way can be a huge inspiration to me. I can see it one second and have an idea the next.
In recent weeks you’ve brought your version of Cinderella, Kim Kardashian, and Marie Antoinette to life. Who’s next?
Shalva Nikvashvili: I think Barbie? I love to play with icons, it’s fun.
Final question… do you always eat the food after you’ve finished the look?
Shalva Nikvashvili: Of course! Always. We never waste foot, even the crumbs on the floor are cleaned up by our dog. She is an organic vacuum cleaner. I come from a very poor country so I respect food a lot.