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Setting the Scene: Galina Gorlova

Galina Gorlova wearing a dress she designed [Source]

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to have a cyber Q&A with twenty-four-old-year-old Galina Gorlova who I met on SoundCloud of all places (I'm quite the social media vixen, aren't I?) and who runs the fashion company, Rico & Aurora. Before delving into the interview, Galina was nice enough to pen a short introduction for you guys to her and her brand. After the jump, you'll also find a few pictures from a Rico & Aurora showing at the Bar Music Hall in Shoreditch.



I studied fine art in College and graduated with a degree in Illustration from the University of Arts London. During my uni years, I spent the entire time designing t-shirts which I think frustrated my tutors. Before starting Rico & Aurora, I worked for several commercial companies as a graphic design and online marketer, but I knew I always wanted to run a fashion brand.

Working as a freelance designer for certain badly-run companies, while it had been the dream of many, made me have panic attacks. I couldn't deal with other people’s problems and requests, and knew I had to be my own boss. Being a big believer in solving the cause of an illness rather than taking medication, I began getting back to the roots. The big breakthrough was working with Philip Colbert of The Rodnik Band, he showed me that running a fashion brand is something I am capable of. I found my old water-color paint and brushes, bought my friend's sewing machine and started painting and making things to distract myself from the pain in my chest and that’s how Rico & Aurora was born.
- Galina Gorlova

Your brand is called Rico & Aurora. What is the story behind that name?

Galina: This makes me giggle every time someone asks me this question. OK here goes… 'Rico' is the name of the penguin from the cartoon Madagascar that swallows stuff; it just makes me laugh. 'Aurora' is a natural light display of purples and blues in high-latitude regions; it’s so beautiful. My father always tells me stories of how I used to stare at them as a baby when he used to work as a space shuttle engineer in Plesetsk Cosmodrome (Russia). I guess the two names describe two extremes of happiness for me.

You started the brand in 2012. When and why did you decide that starting your own business was the right move for you?

Galina: I've always felt that I wanted to do my own thing and if I wanted to do other projects I could but not to be tied down as I knew I wanted to create something from scratch that was my own that I could see grow. In my mind I always remember the quote 'Go after your dreams or someone will to pay you to go after theirs', so that's a big motivation for me everyday.

Rico & Aurora boasts of the fact that each piece is either hand-made, painted or photographed, which you refer to as Art Couture. What inspired this movement?

Galina: I guess I have always had this idea in my head, walking around galleries thinking about art and how a lot of people do not see it because perhaps they might be bored by the idea of going into a gallery. A lot of the Rico & Aurora designs go from canvas straight onto a shirt. I guess this type of process I refer to as Art Couture; the t-shirt becomes the canvas.

In lieu of Emma Watson's Green Carpet Challenge and her collaboration with The Edit on sustainable couture, 'Eco-Fashion' is becoming an increasingly important term in the fashion industry. What measures do you take to ensure that your products are eco-friendly?

Galina: This topic is quite close to my heart as I worked in the holistic field for a number of years at the start of my career. We never use real leather and all our products are vegetarian. The companies we use do not use chemicals during the process of making the fabric. Our design and print process happens in-house where we recycle. I think it’s great what Emma is doing! People need to remember where their clothes are coming from and what they're made of! I think this could be solved if everyone was taught the basics of manufacturing processes and how that impacts the earth.

What inspired your first ever collection, and what obstacles did you face?

Galina: My first ever collection was a set of water-colour paintings that were painted on water-colour paper and then transferred as images on to t-shirt canvases. I have always been interested in the medium, but the problem that water-colour gained in today’s youth is the old-person stereotype behind it. I didn’t want to paint obvious gang signs either so I settled for paintings things that I was thinking about at the time such as animals, fruit, words, octopi, fashion illustration, esoteric symbols, limbs and a brain.

Although you are essentially a British designer, you are also of Latvian decent. Your A/W '13 collection is called Love Thy Geisha and the essence of the Japanese female entertainers is evident throughout the collection. You have also previously done a collection which gained its inspiration from the plains of East Africa. Does a lot of your inspiration come from other cultures?

Galina: Yes! I read a lot about history, religion, science and philosophy, and those cultures stand out more to me than Europe. The richness of knowledge that derives from Asia and Africa is beyond the comprehension of some of Western society which annoys me at this day and age. Those cultures have so much to offer in terms of knowledge to the world. After educating myself, I get to visually express my finds.

Who is the team behind Rico & Aurora?

Galina: It’s just me and my husband, Navi. I do the design and production and he does the financials, and we both collaborate on marketing as we find it fun.

What does the future look like for Rico & Aurora? Can we expect any collaborations?

Galina: In 2014, we're expanding into women's wear and will be collaborating with some talented women's fashion designers which should be very exciting.

What tips do you have for budding entrepreneurs in the fashion industry?

Galina: Just go for it. It doesn't matter if it's hard or you don't know how to do it; you will learn and if you don't know it, there's a thing called Google. Never listen to anyone if it doesn't agree with your own beliefs. If you're scared of something, that is a sign you have to go and do it.

A major part of music is the street style that seems to go with the different genres. Does music inspire you sartorially, and if so how?

Galina: It inspires me but not sartorially. I create a lot of the designs while listening to music, so the sound directly dictates what I’m about to create. I listen to a lot of heavy bass and dubstep while I paint, this is the same for when I’m walking around and taking photographs: the music creates my environment and translates what I’m visually seeing into an altered experience.

What kind of music do you listen to and how has it influenced your personal style?

Galina: I'm eclectic with what I listen to. At the moment I'm obsessed with Major Lazer. I got to meet Jillionaire a few weeks ago, which was cool. Of course I had to hug him and bring him a tee. The music on my iPad right now includes Afrobeats, Cloud Rap, Dancehall, Dubstep, Old School R'n'B, Blues and Grime. I got into music when I was 15. I started hanging out in studio spaces with my male friends who were rappers and that's when I discovered Rap and UK Grime and really got into the urban music scene. When I was in university, I worked in Royal Festival Hall for two years and that's when I discovered how beautiful classical music is. I was lucky to get to experience two different styles of music up close. I guess music influences my shoe choices more than anything else, I don't do heels. I love trainers, especially high tops. I prefer a more masculine style, but on the contrary I have quite a few dresses. I'm not a jeans fan so that makes shopping for trousers kind of hard.

Is there a particular artiste, dead or alive, whose fashion sense you admire more than others?

Galina: I don't think there's a particular one but there are a few I keep an eye out for, like M.I.A. and Aluna Francis from AlunaGeorge. I change all the time with my looks. You never know what I'll be trying next. 

How important would you say the music played at your fashion shows are to you? And how involved are you in the music selection process, if at all?

Galina: Very important, as music is so strongly linked to emotions. I have to consider what feeling I'm trying to show my audience while they view the clothes.


Galina was such a delight and her t-shirts are to-die-for! You can shop the limited edition made-to-order Rico & Aurora collections on their official website, Etsy and The Craze. You can also follow her on Instagram to see behind-the-scenes pictures of the design process, and cool snaps of her sketches and artsy little locales in London, as well as the official Rico & Aurora Instagram. Check out some of her work below!

NOTE: This post was completely non-sponsored, and all views expressed are Galina's and my own respectively.


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