Elena Botchorichvili Photo by New York artist Eteri Chkadua
The writer Elena Botchorichvili has a unique and distinct style marked with humour and fantasy. She writes in a concise and witty manners. Her fashion style reflects the same creativity. I met with the author who doesn’t hesitate to transform the clothes she buys.
Firstly, let me tell you a little bit about this wonderful novelist. She was born in Georgia and lives in Montreal since 1992. Author of eight novels, including Belle vie (Naïve), La tête de mon père (Boréal) and Opera (Les Allusifs), she received in Moscow in April 2016 the Russkaya Premia, one of the most prestigious literary honors awarded to Russian writers of the diaspora. It is awarded by the President Yeltsin Foundation. This former sports journalist is the pride of Georgia. Biographies have been published about her work and her literary career. Postcards and even a stamp were produced in her image.
She could have just sat back and rested on her laurels, but she didn’t. She is right now working on her 9th novel. We chat about fashion over a cup of tea at her home in Montreal.
What’s your favorite accessory or piece of clothing?
Shoes, of course! I think shoes «do everything». You can cheat on clothes, buy old accessories like strange and old handbags to make your look different, but shoes, oh, my God, shoes! They are the center piece. I find that almost all the shoes from big designers are very comfortable, besides being beautiful, so it’s worth investing. It is like investing in your health. I wear Todd’s, Miu Miu, Prada, Gucci. They all serve for many years.
What do you wear when you write?
Pajamas! Writing might be the only profession where you have to get pajamas to go to the office. If I start dressing on, the day of work is lost.
Who are the designers you love most?
I love Prada, but not every year, sometimes her collection is «not talking to me». I never wore Chanel, but this is mainly because it is «not talking to my budget», but I love to watch the fashion creation.
In term of clothing, would you say you are more an «editor» or a «collector»?
I am both. I buy only clothes that I really love so I don’t end up with clothes that I don’t wear, but I keep my clothes for many years. I was born in the Soviet union (that’s why I am always writing about it), so to be into fashion was kind of being a dissident, you had to think more about Communist Party, dear Lenine, glorious future, where we all would be equal (and poor). All my friends were dissidents in these terms, we strived to be beautiful. Rare was the Soviet girl who did not know how to knit, or sew or put a bow on a shoe. It stayed with me. Today, I «correct» even big designers! First, I take off all the labels (not to offend them) and then I fix their product to my taste. I can even sew a fur coat and I do wear them a lot. They are so warm and feminine!
Speaking of fur… Don’t you fear the disapprobation? I mean, it might make you seem insensitive…
No, I don’t feel guilty about them. My coats serve a practical purpose. In Quebec, winters can be brutal. Plus, my coats are never new and never younger than half a century. Isn’t there some virtue in my reuse-recycle approach?
You are indeed a big fan of vintage clothing… Can you tell me why?
Back in the old days, clothing was made with a desired sewing technique and in small quantity. That is why vintage is associated with quality and rarity. Buying vintage pieces today is synonymous to valuable purchasing and is environmentally responsible. I especially like the quality of the fabric and the cut of the vintage items and love to mix them with contemporary clothing. And yes, I sometimes happen to buy clothes «just in case», the fear of returning to the grey USSR still lives with me…