Guram Gvasalia on Vetements, Madonna and His Future in Fashion

“I give you the best example that everyone can relate to,” he went on: “The Kardashians. You have Kim, who is a great person — we think she’s phenomenal — and you have Kylie. Kylie’s the young generation. She’s been very successful without having sex tapes, without having to go through all the things that her sister had to go through. Another example is Venus and Serena Williams. They’re both fantastic. But somehow there was a point where Serena managed to kind of take over.

“I think my brother is very talented, but I have a completely different approach to things. He had his good run of 10 years, and I think his era is slowly going to its finish line. Now it is my time.”

Is that why he chose to post his Madonna reveal not long after the Balenciaga couture show?

“It’s just the right time for us, after the momentum from our show,” he said. Then he added, “Balenciaga always releases news on the day of our show, so I feel it’s only fair.” “Always” may be something of an exaggeration, though he did point out, “They announced Demna’s appointment on my birthday.” That was true (Oct. 7, 2015) though it’s a long time to carry a grudge.

Sometimes it’s hard not to wonder if Mr. Gvasalia knows what he is saying — or how it may be received — or if he is purposely trying to roil the pot. After all, said Julie Gilhart, chief development officer and president of Tomorrow Consulting, who started following Vetements not long after its debut: “There’s nothing sloppy about Guram. I sat with him once in an airport lounge and saw the way his bag was organized — it was perfect. Everything had a place. He never stops thinking. And he is very precise.”

Currently the two Gvasalias are trying to keep their public selves separate. Demna dropped his surname in late 2021. Guram said he would rather I not speak to his brother for this piece. When I requested comment from Demna anyway, Demna replied, via a spokeswoman: “As I’m at Balenciaga, I prefer to generally focus on that when speaking to press or in a professional context. My experience at Vetements was amazing, but I’m leaving it in the past as fond memories.”

Still, it’s almost impossible to disentangle their stories.

Demna and Guram were born in Sokhumi, Georgia. When Guram was 7, civil war broke out and the family fled home, leaving everything behind. They spent a month lost in the mountains before eventually making their way to Düsseldorf, Germany, where the boys grew up. (In 2021, Guram told Forbes Georgia that if his family had stayed in Georgia, “I would probably be running for president.”)