Chanel’s Georgian Noble-born Models


In February 1921 after occupation of the Democratic Republic of Georgia by the Soviet Red Army many Georgians had to flee the country. Most of them found their home in Europe, namely in France. Distinguished with their elegance, refined style and fashion taste many of the Georgian aristocratic women chose fashion modeling. Some of them became Coco Chanel’s models.

Galaktion’s beautiful muse Mary Shervashidze, who in 1921 won a beauty contest held in Istanbul, was one of Chanel’s models. A distinguished aristocratic beauty Melita, aka Melania Cholokashvili collaborated with Chanel fashion house as well.

When Melita Cholokashvili’s modeling career ended, she was replaced by her daughter Lilia Zelenskaya. Lilia’s beauty was much talked about in Paris. She collaborated with a number of famous fashion houses, including Lucien Lelong, a French couturier, for whom she acted as a leading model. Lilia’s images were published on the pages of Vogue in 1930s.

Rima Eristavi, a descendant of princes, from Tbilisi was also a model of the Chanel House. Her mother Tamar Eristavi was born in Mejvriskhevi patrimonial estate. She became a widow at a young age. In 1918 she moved to Paris. Later she brought to Paris her daughter, who was named Princesse Rimma Eristoff. She was distinguished by attractive looks, refined fashion taste and astonishing musical talent. Due to her looks and aristocratic origin almost all of the famous and leading Parisian fashion houses collaborated with her.

Coco Chanel, who worked with so many women of aristocratic origin, would often joke: “Real aristocrats work for me, a provincial from Auvergne”.

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