Why Tbilisi is the Single Man’s Jungle Gym

Four million Georgians. Five hundred thousand single women. How’s that for a crazy statistic? It’s quite accurate though, and a tragic phenomenon. Because if you’re a Georgian woman, you’re inherently appalled by your fellow male countrymen. Or as one of them (whose boyfriend is Italian) put it plainly: “Georgian women don’t like Georgian men”. (Is it vice versa?) And I guess I can kind of see why? I personally didn’t spot many good looking men when I explored the streets. The tall-dark-and-handsome types you’d expect to see, are everything except that. They don’t seem to care much about their appearance. But then again, why should they? It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. The girls aren’t looking at them; they’re looking outside the borders for a lover. When they heard Julien Boudet – points if you can spot him in the photo gallery – was among the invitees at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, they went properly wild, and the requests to meet him were overwhelming. And I don’t blame them… Bravo, Julien.

Anyways, we weren’t all deprived of beauty in Tbilisi. It’s an absolutely incredible city: sometimes modern and architecturally experimental; other times grey, abandoned and Soviet-stark; but in essence quaint and scenic. The old part of town is like a Tim Burton movie set – you’d think the houses are haunted – and the countryside reminds me of Austria or Hungary, with ancient cathedrals and fortresses sitting atop green rolling hills, and small villages nestled in lush valleys with meandering rivers. Georgians ski in winter, and sunbathe on the beaches of the Black Sea in summer. Catherine Baba, one of the other guests, compared “the joy of Georgia” to “a jewelry box”. Apparently Coco Chanel was inspired by the Georgian cross when she designed the original jewelry line.

You can basically see Tbilisi in one day: walk around the old town, take the cable car up the mountain, visit the castle, the baths, the shopping street, have lunch at Gabriadze Cafe, dine at Funicular and you’re done. But there are a few rare treats worth chasing. We had the privilege to sit in on the rehearsals of the Georgian National Ballet Sukhishvili. That was pretty epic. But what’s more? It’s the beautiful, testosterone-laden hub where all the cute boys are hiding – I found them! – the shining, buoyant epicenter of the tall, dark and handsome myth! These guys were phenomenal, like the strident warriors they portray. (Fact: Georgia was in a perpetual state of war for thirteen centuries, fighting off Romans, Arabs, Mongols, Turkomans, Ottomans, Iranians and Russians until its independence in 1918.) And we paid a visit to the studio of Samoseli Pirveli, a private company with the sole purpose of preserving and promoting traditional Georgian costume. The embroiderers are only allowed to work four hours per day, and the coats they make still rock the gun powder holders. I wore one on the last day of Fashion Week – it was a proud moment.

Fashion-wise, Georgia has quite a bit of talent. The overall impression was positive and happy. Unlike their Ukrainian friends, who are essentially dark and avant-garde, Georgian designers love color and youth, in the comfortable footsteps of Marni or Creatures of the Wind. I saw very few body-con silhouettes – everything was boxy, not always flattering or feminine I would say – and besides Datuna very little evening wear. Mercedes Benz Fashion Week showcased twenty-four designers from Georgia and Ukraine. Some of my personal highlights included MaterielAtelier Kikala, Flow The Label, Eloshi, Litkovskaya and Bessarion. And I discovered a few cute models as well! After I posted the Instagram of Lika I got frantic calls from a few notable agencies in New York… More about that and the looks I chose to style for a shoot on Thursday!

There’s never enough time to see all the sites, but I got a pretty fair idea of Georgia. Its people are ridiculously generous and hospitable. Guests are “god sent” as they say, and are lavished with food, wine and gifts. I gained about five pounds in five days – gasp! The most common ingredients are grapes, pomegranates, zucchini, eggplant, garlic, spinach, walnuts and cheeses. The climate is Southern and agreeable, the religion primarily Orthodox Christian, the language completely incomprehensible, the alphabet even worse, and the prices are low. Georgia’s economy isn’t doing very well, mainly because the country doesn’t have any particularly viable resources, except agriculture. And the kids? They party like it’s 1999. I’d love to come back in the summer and visit the Black Sea and see more of the countryside. But for now, I’m content with the experience and the hundreds of photos and videos I took.

Translation in Georgian.

Many thanks to Sofia Tchkonia for inviting me; Tamara and her protocol for being by my side 24/7; my mustached driver for bobbing his head to my music; and Mercedes Benz for the heated seats.

December 1, 2015

Leave a Comment

23 Responses to “Why Tbilisi is the Single Man’s Jungle Gym”

  1. avatar

    Think in some aspect the author has been missled by limited observation or the opinions of few people he met.

  2. avatar

    A woman hailing from a country with 70% obesity is not happy that she did not meet her Brad Pitt -Ryan Gosling lookalike while casually walking in the streets of a small Caucasus city. Seems reliable and legit.

  3. avatar
    Alexander - Reply

    Well… we(Georgian men) are not all ugly. 🙂 But, it depends where and when you look for handsome guys in Tbilisi. Most of handsome guys I know are also pretty busy during a day (we work in IT, Healthcare, Banking and we usually finish work late.)

    As for Georgian girls… well, my female friend had an Italian boyfriend and she chose a charming Georgian guy instead to get married. So, I guess its not always one way…

    Also, we rarely choose Georgian girls ourselves, I for example had French, Korean, Russian, Ukrainian girlfriends… but I never had a Georgian girlfriend. Why? … its a little more complicated than you wrote. 🙂

  4. avatar
    Alexander - Reply

    As for your photos, they are truly wonderful. I am glad that you have enjoyed my city. 😀

  5. avatar
    Giorgi Topuria - Reply

    What does the whole article have to do with the first paragraph?

  6. avatar

    Looks like my fellow countrymen got offended by your strong statements in the first paragraph, Natalie. and I felt compelled to contribute my opinion of someone whose roots are Georgian. it is unfortunate that you connected with at least one shallow woman who thinks if she dates a foreigner, he would always be the prince charming in her life. There is good and bad in every nation and one should not generalize like that. Unfortunately, the economy still has not thrived and this is one of the reason women looking for better lives outside of Georgia’s border. As for Georgian men, I know plenty of charming, loving, intelligent , generous, and very handsome men. and yes, it is true that you do not see too many beautiful people walking just because, unfortunately, Georgians do not like to stroll the streets, much preferring to drive. I hope you get to explore Tbilisi and Georgia’s countryside in warmer months. it is magical!

  7. avatar
    Alexander - Reply

    What did you shoot with? The colors look like Fuji camera… but probably I’m wrong.

  8. avatar

    Check out Georgian rugby players, unless, of course, model/dancer- types are what you exclusivly are into. 😉

  9. avatar

    “Or as one of them (whose boyfriend is Italian)” Oh, man I hate those, i call them “trakshi pero” literally speaking feather in the ass, but it goes something like “Oh my god I am so cool” type 🙂

  10. avatar

    I loved the article. It was very ocurate. I’m Georgian and as much as I love my country, it is inevitable that there will always be ugly parts of a nation, just like any other in the world. I see in the below comments that male figures are upset, when in reality what you DO see in the streets is perfectly described above. Although I do agree that Georgian men are loving and uber charming. I find that most attractive ones are found in the mountains of Georgia:) where the pure blood and Thorobreds live:) as for others, my fello Tbilisi citizens, be kind to this writer who didn’t elevate our city to some higher levels. There were many good things said and let’s appreciate those and let’s work on the pets that need to be fixed. So, that next time, our guests can truly gush over Tbilisi.

  11. avatar
    Georgiangirl - Reply

    Dear, that’s so meaningful article to me. I am a Georgian girl having Italian boyfriend too and I’ve found many similarities to my personal stuff.

    • avatar
      Alexander - Reply

      Oh god… xD

      The problem with your “Italian” boyfriends is that I’ve been to Italy many times (due to my work I have to travel a lot) and the vast majority of normal Italian men did not seem much more attractive than normal Georgian men… its like with French females… everybody thinks they have to be attractive because they are from France… but , they often are not (They do posses that French charm though… and the language makes them seem cute)

      My point is that having “Italian” boyfriend would make you cool only in the eyes of people who have never been outside of Georgia or are limited in their understanding of the world… HOWEVER, IF your Italian boyfriend is also handsome and successful AND loving, you do get all the cool points! 😉 But lets be honest here… 95% of you, Georgian girls would completely outclassed by much better educated, harder working and just overall much more beautiful women from Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Ukraine and Russia so there you have it. 😉

      • avatar
        Alexander - Reply

        I know it sounds defensive… and cruel, but its just a well established fact. You want a good Georgian boyfriend/ husband? Take care of yourself… have a good education… try to achieve something in your life, rather just sit around waiting for price charming… and cursing Georgian men because they don’t care about you.

  12. avatar

    Okay, this post was weird and I didn’t understand the main point of it. Did you like Tbilisi or not? I am from Tbilisi and as much as I understand it is not the greatest city in the world and not the most beautiful, and the people aren’t all that happy-go-lucky, you just can’t say that young men in Tbilisi aren’t good! Or girls for that matter. Maybe they don’t take care of their appearance like others, but that’s the best thing about them. I find these hair-gelled, suit wearing, fitness-obsessed businessmen type really annoying and phony, which is why I think georgian young men are pretty handsome and honest with what they are. Now mentality and personality is another deal

  13. avatar
    Sarcastro - Reply

    It’s obvious that you didn’t get out of your fashion-week bubble, otherwise you would have seen the stark grays and blacks that everyone wears in the streets. Sure, the designers maybe be bright and vibrant, but with the average wage being 300-500 GEL ($175-300) only the few elite natives can afford them. I also agree with the posts here that the Georgians here that only look at native guys tend to either be vapid, status seekers or green-card whores

    • avatar
      Alexander - Reply

      First of all, many guys here earn much more than you think… look at the cars people drive here… Ehem…

      Secondly, you DO NOT need to be rich to look good. 😉 You sort of do. You do need basic money of course, but either you look good or you don’t and the money is not always a big factor, especially with Georgian men… because there are many rich people here who look like trash. 🙂

  14. avatar

    Generally i liked the article.. Dear article author i some how agree with you, some or most of our men do not take enough care of themselves.: but they are handsome. for example me georgian lady do not like georgian men, i like their appearencd but not character. i have never had georgian lover. I am engaged with italian man, and i feel like a queen with him. my previous lovers were italian, british, bulgarian, serbian but No Georgian Man. i do underline that majority of our men are handsome , especially western georgian guys , but i dont get well with them…

  15. avatar

    Natalie, your blog is like heaven. Where are these gorgeous earrings from?

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