Ria Keburia, a fashion designer turned gallerist and curator, runs the fashion scene without obeying the generally accepted rules of the industry. She feels the colours, has beautiful stories to tell and revives those stories through the craftsmanship of amazingly talented artists. Ria’s colourful garments transmitted in artistic performance open up a whole new world for fashion lovers.
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Who is Ria Keburia and what is the philosophy behind your brand?
Ria Keburia is a fashion designer but she is not performing as a fashion designer anymore. I graduated from fashion school as a couturier and was completely designing on my own but later I switched to performing arts. The philosophy behind Ria Keburia’s brand and gallery is basically about designing stories of my own thinking, of my own universe. In other words, I am a storyteller and am trying to portray my inner morals and ideas by juxtaposing things hidden in me through the garments. When I started as a designer my goal was to create garments that could engage with the audience and to be as talkative as possible. Today, I am acting as a gallerist but the brand philosophy remains the same; I have just changed the method of the storytelling. If I used to do it through garments before, now I am telling those stories via performance.
You have your unique working method, what’s your secret?
I can say that I’ve become a victim of my creative experience. I created my own working method and even set rules that I follow, no matter what. Everything that happens in a performance comes from my real life experience. When I was a designer I just put the stories in the garments but then I came up with a method that gives eternal life to the creations through collaborations with various talented designers who construct the scenery of my thinking by giving form to all the stories, raving my mind. I am the illusionary creator and then I need to find designers and proper people who will fit in the story I want to tell. Each story is different and as the creative director of the gallery, I create the artistic packaging of the stories myself.
The reason I quit fashion designing is that, in comparison to other designers who have their niche, their signature and their unique designing style, I enjoyed browsing different universes and all my pieces were different from each other, so you could never tell if they were created by the same person. Later on I understood that I was in the wrong place; that I was not a designer but a certain kind of a spiritual artist who can lead other designers to the novelty and to the creation of something great through their own craft. What is interesting in my method is the mixture of designers and signatures that then form one big story.
Tell me more about your collaborations with Kiril Mintsev, Shabalin and Fakoshima.
They are all different. The Fakoshima and Shabalin collaborations took place back when I was a designer, while Mintsev’s one came later, when I started developing myself as a curator. There was a project I was working on as a designer, and I guessed that I needed alternative accessories for the collection. Fakoshima was all about a baby collection, where we released sunglasses that were childish and colourful. The eyewear absolutely fitted in the androgen idea of a baby face, a period when you cannot distinguish the persons’ gender. Fakoshima was my first successful collaboration with big investments. The collaboration with Shabalin was based on the idea of robots and the future opposed to the Renaissance period. I first did clothing inspired by the Renaissance and then I was in need of robots. So Shabalin created marvellous, handmade masks that looked like robotic faces that turned out to be very colourful, very bright and eye-catching.
Later when my brand developed into the gallery, I needed an interesting know-how, like Kiril Mintsev’s one. Namely, he had a rope beading technique that totally fell in line with my story. We created a huge bag consisting of small bags, and then we decided to make small boxes and tied them up with Kiril’s embroidered ropes. All the collaborations were very particular as all of three designers managed to portray the stories in my mind in their own unique ways.
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When visiting your webpage we fall in a mystic, artistic and colourful world. How did you create this digital illusionary universe of yours?
I definitely created it from my head. As being quite introvert since my early childhood, I have the capacity to separate myself from the real world and switch to my illusionary part of the brain. These stories and characters come from the creative waves that give me the moments of visual flashes in which I see my characters and heroes jumping, screaming or running. According to their dynamics, I choose the theme and go deeper into research. Global topics help me define the story and later I interpret the characters. After having construed everything on my mind, I start hunting the talents for the collaborations. As for the mystery, it comes from the juxtaposition of the ideas according to the plot of my story and an artistic mediation of the garments.
What does your project Room 410 showcase?
It’s personal but I am going to tell you. When I lived in Moscow my family used to run a hotel and there was one room, the number 410, that I could use as a showroom. It was a place where I was meeting photographers, buyers and designers, so whenever I was in Moscow people could see me hanging out in this room. I had all the garments in tere and the photographers used to come to get the clothes. It served us as kind of an archive. Room 410 was also a room for the media and connections, where people from the fashion industry could come to share their ideas with me. The shooting itself, which is called the same name as of the hotel room, was a project in collaboration with Tbilisi Photo Festival, curated by Nestan Nijaradze, where the photographers retold my stories with their own vision in very artistic ways.
Where is your gallery?
Ria Keburia Gallery is an online platform and works within the pop-up system. I link myself with Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi, where I showcase my creations in real time, while in Moscow I have presentations in many different galleries. Marketing wise it is a way to get to know new people, and this approach also helps me in growing my audience.
Who is your favourite fashion designer?
I am a great lover of genderless fashion myself – like the one of Comme des Garçons – because I associate it with my own personality and taste. So Rei Kawakubo is – and always will be – a source of inspiration to me as her limitless creativity, extraordinary vision and unique style are eternal. When I first saw her garments as a teenager, she literally lighted my fire. I guessed that I had a deep connection with her not only through the garments, the style or the identity, but also through her way of storytelling. She had created a goal in me and I started to work hard on myself, which later led me to develop further and further.
How is today’s fashion scene in your country?
I can freely say that the fashion scene is prospering in Georgia. It is developing in a very positive way as it is in good hands of Sofia Tchkonia, founder and creative director of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi, where Georgian designers are given the possibility to showcase their skills, meet buyers from all over the world, get important media coverage and bring their brands into light. Additionally, the notion of Demna Gvasalia, who has literally revolutionized fashion, brings lots of attention to the country and we definitely see a great outcome through the rave of the press and through the desire of people from the fashion industry, who want to come to Georgia and discover new talents, thanks to him. Nowadays, it makes sense for the Georgian designers to put all their efforts in their work and use all their creativity, as they will be judged in a proper, natural and just way.