Consonance Not Happenstance: Shushan


Y’all gotta know about SHUSHAN. It’s been two months since my fashion visit to Kiev (which I’ve already covered for Forbes USA) but I keep thinking about the experience and circling back to this Ukrainian brand. It struck me as honest. Let me explain.

Honesty is hardly an operational concept in style discourse. We got trendy, trashy, classy, classic, must-have, wtf, and there was plenty of all that at Mercedes Benz Kiev Fashion Days in February. Shushan Pambukhchyan’s fall-winter 2017 show stood out amid the whirlwind hoopla. A) she was not trying to blatantly cash-in on whatever is expected to sell fast now. B) she was not trying to make some audacious creative gesture or statement. And yet, this was the jackpot/bullseye collection of the week for me. Because it was honest in its limitations. Shushan is a self-taught sensitive artist behind a young brand in a country in turmoil. One wants florals, but there is a festering war, so in come the lilies and reeds – solemn wilderness gatekeepers. One cannot escape militarist zeitgeist, but there is a gravitational pull of love, so the starkness of camo-khaki is undermined by flowing forms and defiant pompoms. You make do. The prevailing neon gloss aesthetic of the moment is overcompensation under dire challenges. There is timely honesty in matting the pinks, straightening the seams, engendering self-reliance through combining masculine/feminine elements and energies into laconic looks. Shushan called it “consonance” and so it is.

I look forward to following SHUSHAN for years and encourage y’all to keep an eye on… and a wallet out for this designer.

P.S. I do take issue with casting for Shushan’s otherwise well-executed FW’17 lookbook. The model is too young. My objection does not come from a desire to enforce a treacherous idea of age-appropriate clothing. You should wear exclusively whatever your heart-of-hearts commends you to. However, this campaign underperforms as a branding and marketing exercise. There is a gulf/gap of experience between the evident depth of emotional investment and effort that went into creating this collection and the surface frivolity of a dolled-up teenage face commissioned to sell it. I imagine these are the pains of hunting for one’s demographic niche in an emergent market. Picture (the likes of) Zoe Saldana, Noomi Rapace, Ingeborga Dapkunaite (look ’em up) in these shots … that’s what I’d call #consonance.

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