Ria Leigh played an imperative role in the foundation of Project Girl Crush. I first saw her a few years ago around Seattle’s Capitol Hill, where she co-owned a wonderfully curated vintage shop called Kaleidoscope Vision. One specific day, clad in a denim onesie, black beanie, red lips, and long black hair hanging in a braid, she held a toddler on her hip. Her daughter, Ari, fussed as children will, and Ria’s composure and grace amidst chaos struck me as hypnotic. I had never spoken to this woman, but I was so utterly taken by her I fumbled to understand my own reaction. Because I’ve always considered myself a ‘straight’ woman with a fierce attraction to men, moments like these forced me to grapple with my own understanding of sexuality. While I believe sexuality absolutely exists on a spectrum, and we all oscillate and exist between the polarities, I couldn’t quite identity my fascination with this creature. It wasn’t sexual in nature, yet it felt primal. It was indeed about her gender, her ‘female-ness’, but not necessarily her ‘femininity’. It was about her beauty, but it felt more emotional. Encountering Ria and, subsequently, coming to her, has helped uncover a more precise understanding of that infatuation. I was finally forced to name it, this ‘girl crush’.
I’ve said many times that PGC was founded with many notions at play, and Ria was a major factor. She epitomizes elegance and understated self-confidence. She lives her own life in reverence of beauty; worshipping, collecting, and sculpting it. When I had the opportunity to visit her in her home in the Los Feliz neighborhood of LA, I was once again overtaken by her appreciation of the profundity of aesthetic harmony.
“How we construct our world and our visual and tactile experience is so infinitely interesting to me. I love that by making a piece of pottery or a quilt, I am actively creating an experience, and in some small way impacting the way someone else views our world.”
Ria defines the importance of art of all forms, and acts as a supreme reminder to me why immersing myself in beauty is so essential. Allow me to get more honest here—the last three weeks have been rough for me. Really rough. I very consciously chose to feature Ria this week (after some PGC-free time) because she will continue to act as an embodiment and a reminder of the depth and need for aesthetic harmony. And it was this prompt that forced me to recall this project’s absolute necessity to me, as it too acts as a reminder of the beauty that exists in the world.