SOCIETY
Georgian models who worked with Coco Chanel
21 June, 2018
Lots of Georgians left the country in 1921 and afterwards, to run away from the Soviet regime and save their lives. Majority of them where nobles and people from higher social class, because the Soviets were chasing after nobles and aristocracy. Among those who fled the country were hundreds of women. Most of them settled in European cities.

Some of those women decided to become models and demonstrate glamour in a city of fashion. They were outstanding with their elegancy, refined
style and taste. It is not surprising – most of them were from noble families, where fashion and glamour was always on the first place.
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Coco Chanel. Photo courtesy: hk.asiatatler.com

The largest fashion agencies were cooperating with them with great pleasure. Moreover, at the time, every fashion agency would brag about migrant models who worked with them. The House of Chanel hold special place among other houses of fashion.

Georgian Journal tells you story of Georgian models who worked in the House of Chanel.
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Meri Shervashidze. Photo courtesy: nplg.gov.ge

Meri Shervashidze was a face of Chanel for a while. It is said that she would never lough, but only smile. Galaktion Tabidze, promienent Georgian poet was inspired with her beauty. She was his Muse.

Meri was born in Batumi, in 1888. She lived in Petersburg and served as a maid of an emperor. Russian emperor Nicholas II once told Meri: “It is a sin to be so beautiful, princess!” In 1919 Meri married Giorgi Eristavi, Georgian nobleman. She left the country right before the Soviets had conquered Georgia.
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Meri Shervashidze and Georgian writer Revaz Tabukashvili. Photo courtesy: nplg.gov.ge

She stayed in Turkey for some time, as she was waiting for her husband to arrive. Meanwhile, Meri took part in world beauty contest held in Istanbul and claimed victory. Meri’s husband soon died in immigration, but she refused to get married again, despite the fact that she had many admirers. One of them was son of Admiral Osip Makarov. In 1960s, Meri inherited 500 thousand Franks from him.
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Melita Cholokashvili in her youth. Photo courtesy: nplg.gov.ge

Meri spent last days of her life in Paris, in a retirement home. She died at the age of 97 and is buried in Leuville Cemetery, where other prominent Georgians are buried as well.

Another Georgian woman who worked in the House of Chanel was Melita Cholokashvili. Her godfather was famous Georgian public figure Ilia Chavchavadze. Another Georgian poet Titsian Tabidze’s poetry was inspired with the beauty of Melita.

Melita was born in 1895, in Kakhetian town Sagarejo. She was very beautiful, she was gifted with talent to sing and dance.
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Melita Cholokashvili. Photo courtesy: nplg.gov.ge

When she was 18, Melita married Konstantin Zelensky, a lawyer and writer from Petersburg, he was 20 years older, though. In 1922 Melita left Georgia with a daughter and a sister and arrived in Paris, where the source for her income was modeling. She met and became friends with Meri Shervashidze in the House of Chanel. Melita visited Georgia only once, in 1958. She died in 1985. Her daughter replaced Melita on a catwalk.

Her name was Lilia Zelenskaya, born in 1918. She grew up in immigration and graduated from ballet school in France. She dedicated her life to fashion and modeling.
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Lilia Zelenskaya. Photo courtesy: sputnik-georgia.com

Lilia married a journalist, Iury Rotvan. Their daughter was named after her grandmother – Melita. Everybody were left stunned with her beauty during one of the balls. After that, L’Officiel Magazine printed her photo in 1961. “Melita Rotvanya spreads beauty and kindness” – wrote the magazine.

Melita junior was much more beautiful than her mother or grandmother, but preferred to become mother. She gave birth to four children and died at the age of 91. It is said that she maintained her elegance and beauty until the end of life.
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Coco Chanel. Photo courtesy: time.com

Rima Eristavi was another Georgian who worked in the House of Chanel. Her mother moved to paris after the death of a husband in 1907. Rima arrived in Paris a bit later, with Meri Shervashidze. Her mother helped Rima to become a member of Parisian noble society. Meri was very beautiful and talented.
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Paris in 1920s. Photo courtesy: buzzfeed.com

Rima soon attracted attention of Coco Chanel and started to work in her house of fashion. In Paris she was called Princesse Rimma Eristoff (Eristoff i.e. Eristavi). Rima had never been married. She died in 1982 and is buried in Leuville Cemetery, among other Georgians.
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Georgian estate in Leuville, France. Pfoto courtesy: sputnik-georgia.com

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