What looks like an ordinary deck of cards at first glance, is far more weird and wonderful. The brainchild of Georgian creative David Apakidze, The Last Tarot casts the eccentric personalities of Tbilisi’s fashion scene as characters in the major arcana. Look closely and you’ll find that all the familiar esoteric archetypes—the Empress, the Magician, the Lover, and such—are all decked out in fabulous clothes by local designers. With his body engulfed by flames, the lanky model Matt Shally is unmistakable as “The Devil” in a red latex jacket by the buzzy designer Levau Shvelidze. Known for an outré look that includes doll parts as embellishments, street style favorite and designer Nini Goderidze is depicted as “The High Priestess.” “[She] is an introvert who always studies her personal world,” explains Apakidze of Goderidze who is illustrated wearing one of her own pale peach latex designs and perched on a crescent moon. Apakidze himself plays the “The Fool” in a short blue turtleneck dress by Aka Prodiashvili.
Apakidze’s interest in tarot started as a young child though because he grew up in a religious family, he was banned from practicing it. Eventually, when he left home, he began to explore tarot and, and currently teaches classes online with a friend. As he points out, traditionally the tarot deck has been evenly split between male and female energy. With the Last Tarot, he’s hoping to challenge that binary approach. “Tarot decks reinforce the stereotype that man is active and powerful, and woman is passive, emotional, and mystical,’” says Apakidze who worked with artist Gvantsa Jishkariani and photographer Nata Sopromadze to bring his idea to life. “I wanted to show that tarot is not like this anymore.
In the absence of fashion week in Tbilisi which was canceled earlier this month due to the pandemic, the Last Tarot is a bright spot in a difficult moment for the city’s burgeoning creative scene. “All designers used in the the tarot deck are ones who speak to us, along with their messages—queer designers who are not afraid to take risks,” says Apakidze who is currently working on a thesis about queer designers in Georgia and bartends at Success bar, one of the few safe spaces in the city for the LGBTQ community. “And with no fashion week and in a frozen world, it’s so important for small brands from small countries to have visibility. And the same goes for queer culture. Step by step, we will change people’s minds to become more progressive.”
Originally Appeared on Vogue