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by Carrie White

Carrie WhiteHave you been out to a club lately in Atlanta and saw a girl that was out of this world? That was probably Nadja Rio, better known as Rio. She is one of a kind with her platform shoes, fiery hair, porcelain skin, glitter and a good attitude. The most unusual thing about her is her crazy outfit. It's part of the inspiration that has fused ZR21165, the fashion label behind Rio's first collection of Industrial Couture.

Playing the role as one of Atlanta's original club kids, Rio has taken the next step to share with the fashion and costuming worlds her creative and imaginative abilities. Her designs are a cyber-synthetic mix of Dune, BladeRunner and Ghost in the Machine. Man-made materials fused with natural fabrics present the eye with raw style that only the bold can wear. Van Michael Salon used her creations in their Aveda hair show, showing support for her sensational style.

Rio"I have never fit in. I have always taken great pride in being different. It has never been a conscious effort to try to be the one that everyone pointed at and whispered about behind my back. The cards were dealt to me and I chose to play," Rio says about herself.

Spending her younger years in Florida presented a challenge with her fair complexion; red hair and no tolerance for heat did not go over well in the land of Coppertone tans, bikinis and blonde hair.

"The atmosphere I grew up in forced me to confront my differences and to explore different forms of entertainment and expression. While my peers were comparing tans and driving around listening to Michael Jackson's Thriller, I was inside listening to Joy Division drawing characters, writing in my journal and deciding what I was going to wear when the sun was set safely for me to go exploring the other side of Florida," she says.

"The idea of going out and buying the latest styles at The Limited was so boring to me. I literally was left to my own devices and turned myself into my own Pretty in Pink movie. Mixing fabrics and being inspired by avant-garde styles of music, film and music videos, I created a look...I started to create me."

Rio says that going out in her own creations was hard in the beginning, but she lives by the philosophy, "What doesn't kill you will only make you stronger. Everyone has his or her own way of personal expression, I just happen to wear mine."

Rio's fashion Like many of us, she was first inspired by Madonna and started dressing up at 14 years old. She wanted to go into fashion design, but her parents encouraged her to go into interior design, seeing it as more lucrative. But Rio's heart has always been in fashion.

With a dream of ending up in New York City or London, she would jump at the chance to work for designers Vivienne Westwood or Stella McCartney (Chloe). Other designers she admires are Terry Mugler, Christian Lacroix, Jean Paul Gautier and Alexander McQueen.

She doesn't see design as a competitive sport, but a release of everything she holds inside.

"I found freedom through creation, and if I can empower one person to feel the independence of individualism through wearing my designs, I have succeeded."

Rio says she won't be using her name for her designs because she gets enough attention by wearing what she creates. But, attention is not what she is seeking, only freedom of expression.

Gene Carbonell remarked, "Rio, or whatever name she chose for this week, is one of the most versatile, open-minded and humble individuals I know. Her actions and personality are as original as her designs and she has kept my respect over the years for holding true to those aspects. Rio always takes the road less traveled, which, in my opinion, is a ray of light in this dismal, predictable and plain world we live."

Bill Kaelin, former promoter for Fusion expressed, "Rio is like my own personal Madonna. Her look changes every time I turn around...not just minor things either...drastic stuff. It is so much fun to be her friend because creativity surrounds her. She is one of the hardest working girls I know and determined to be happy in life. Rio's time has come...finally. It is well deserved and the work won't be the same once they get a taste of her."

Rio and Kari It's very refreshing to know that there are people in Atlanta that are trying new things. New York City is notorious for their club kids, dressing up in wild homemade costume and club wear creations. Rio brings that to Atlanta. You may see her out at Nomenclature on Friday nights or the Chamber on Saturday nights (along with Mr. Gene Carbonell). But many of you may remember her from Wednesday nights at Fusion in 1998 (those were the days!) with fellow club kid Kerri (in picture with Rio). Keep an eye out for ZR21165, you may be wearing it next year!

Author's note: I'd like to thank Lunar for posting my article, Rio for her creativity and donating her time and fashion, photographer Ben Rose, model Sarah Hubbard (lead singer of the band Sunday Munich) and all you fashion lovers out there!

Rio's Fashions

Rio's fashion

Rio's fashion

Rio's fashion
Rio's fashion Rio's fashion

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