The Perfect PAIRING

The Perfect PAIRING

The Rise of the Underdogs: Momik Winery and fashion label, JHANGIRIAN take their hand as artisan leaders

One does not need to be a wine connoisseur to understand that the secret ingredient to any good wine is true craftsmanship.  Even during ancient times, the winemaking process has always entailed meticulous detail that originates from passion, skill, and most importantly, knowledge - one that far exceeds the steps of winemaking, but rather a thorough understanding of geology, microbiology, and chemistry. Surprisingly, the same goes for fashion, as designers must have knowledge that goes beyond the basics of sewing. A true artist does not only sketch designs, they design art, they do not select fabrics, they create an aesthetic, and they do not put together pieces of cloth, they assemble a fortress for the body. Just like good wine, fashion demands devotion, quality, and artistry. But even more than that, the power of ensuring culture and heritage prevail through their art is a craft of its own, one that designer Narek Jhangiryan and vintner Nver Ghazaryan are dedicated to. 

For generations, Nver and his family have been involved in winemaking, and upon his father’s passing in the late 90’s, he inherited the winery and continued the work of his father - perfecting the grape selection. Momik, the small-batch winery in Areni, maintains the family business and is operated by Nver, his wife Narine Mkrtchyan and their son - who has been serving in the military the last few years. 

Nver’s first endeavor was in 2011, when his unnamed wine won “Best Homemade Wine” at the annual Areni Wine Festival, and found a partner in OneArmenia for their Farm-to-Bottle Program. Named after the 14th-century Armenian architect and khachkar maker, Momik has since been slowly growing their brand selling locally, and at their on-site tasting room. Today, the winery receives visitors from all over the world for its unmatched scenery, ambrosial wines and most importantly - a memorable experience catered by Nver and Narine.

“Armenian winemaking has ancient roots, evident by recent [archeological] excavation findings from the region; that have an integral role in our culture. Our goal is to share these traditions with the rest of the world, through our winery and brand,” says Nver.

As a family-run business, with no outside staff, the winery produces a few thousand bottles each year without exporting outside of Armenia. Why? As Nver explains, their issues lie within lack of resources and infrastructure technicalities - inconsistent electricity and water supply. They’ve begun solar panel installations and hope to build cottages for overnight guests, but the pandemic and war has delayed their progress. And, having to manage both the production and their influx of guests this last year, without proper funding they are unable to manage the workload and expand as needed.

As frustrating as it seems, the issues that Nver and his family face at Momik are nearly universal for most Armenian creatives. Armenian fashion designer Narek Jhangiryan is no stranger to these challenges. For Narek, and any independent designer in Armenia, the lack of proper education at the university level, textile factories, and non-Turkish quality fabrics and materials are just the tip of the iceberg.

Emerging designers don't have the capacity to travel abroad to obtain the tools needed to develop their brand and execute ever changing seasonal collections at a level to compete in the global market; keeping them at a standstill, unable to reach their full potential. With some exceptions, industries are divided between authentic craftsmen and those with financial capabilities - leaving the likes of Nver and Narek to fend for themselves on their long and detoured journey towards mass success.

Narek began his eponymous fashion label, JHANGIRIAN, in 2017 after his first exhibition at the Academy of Fine Arts earned him the title of “Youngest Armenian Designer.”

In the last five years he has proven to be a force to be reckoned with, always pushing the boundaries that surround the Fashion Industry of Armenia. Inspired by strong, independent women and driven by his desire to make a difference, his collections pull influence from Armenian heritage and shed light on social causes - never failing to tell a story. With his thoughtfully curated collections produced in limited quantities or for pre-order, he has built a name for himself that the locals, and many abroad, flock to when desiring an edgy yet refined Made in Armenia sartorial piece.

More recently, Narek has been tapped and recognized by major organizations to design capsule collections or provide art direction; all of which led him to develop a private course. He teaches enrolled students the fundamentals of fashion design as a supplement to their degrees. With all his successes, Narek still lacks the funding needed to produce his collection - opting to maintain high-quality and elevated design over fast fashion sales.

“Now more than ever, Armenia’s heritage is under attack - facing an existential threat. I design to shine light on and to recall the beauty of our culture, religion and nationality,” says Narek. “To start a new story, one must restart what comes from the national roots.”

Seemingly the underdogs of their industry, Narek and Nver met at Momik winery and conversed of their deep love and dedication to their field. Their stories converge through their shared narrative: artisans creating art for art’s sake, as opportunities continue to elude them despite their sheer and obvious talent. They both find themselves fighting for continuity, as their ready made collections of clothing and wine are unable to penetrate the global market without greater capital and tools at their disposal.. Despite all odds they each continue to create beautiful products through that which they do have — tremendous historical inspiration to guide them.

The Armenian winemaking tradition is centuries-old with historical gravitas in the culture, despite Soviet-era forced reinvestment into brandy production. Similarly, Narek turns to Armenian cultural values, for his RE-LIGION collection, addressing Armenia’s relationship with the Apostolic church, recalling Armenia’s beauty and using fashion as a visual language. Their stories are both that of artistry and preservation, all rooted in a deep love for Armenia. Drought years often produce the best wines, and it is no wonder that Armenia’s resource-poor environment has created a desperately talented culture of creation.

“At the moment Armenia is in a very complicated post-war situation but our soul is strong. We continue to work, create and invest,” explained Nver.

The works of Momik and Jhangirian go beyond producing wines and designing clothes, as both are defying to disseminate Armenia's history through their own cultivated practices. The faith of such talented people lies in the hands of each and every Armenian out there, whether in Armenia or the diaspora.

By supporting up-and-coming artists or any small Armenian business, we are not only investing in their future but in Armenia's future as well. Besides the obvious allure of Jhangirian designs and the refined taste of Momik's wines, such creations are sustaining our culture whilst making it accessible for others - and that alone is enough reason to hold their works in high regard.

Words: Hena Aposhian, Ani Vahradyan, Gohar Khojabagyan


Creative Direction: Gohar Khojabagyan Art Direction and Styling: Narek Jhangiryan Photography: Christina Arutyunova Model: Diana Grigoryan Beauty: Harut Frank Project Management: Victoria Pisarenko Digital Editor: Zhora Avagyan Production: 374 Collective