Twos and zeros. I only took one journey this year — into myself. Turned out, I haven’t changed much since youth. Simplicity still shakes me to the core, my comfort zone is still made of straight lines, and primary colors still give me goosebumps. And yet, I find myself immersed in the exact opposite, daily — hassle, asymmetry, half-measures. How curious.

My father is a doctor, and so is my mom — out of protest, I guess, I was planning on becoming a lawyer. Luckily, it didn’t take me long to realize, that I only liked lawyers for their looks. So, one early morning I left Erlangen, where I was studying German at that time, for Munich to attend ESMOD open door day, where I immediately fell for the fascinating world of fashion. It was a secret I couldn’t keep for long, of course — my parents were surprised but supportive.

I am pretty tall by Georgian standards. Growing up in Tbilisi 30 years ago meant only having L32 pants, and those could hardly cover my ankles — something I was constantly teased for. So, my ultimate teenage dream was to one day see myself in proper clothing. Which I produced soon after entering ESMOD — I made exactly six pairs of beautiful, long pants. I still own a pair, actually.

I realized that I didn’t speak any French right after my request for being transferred to Paris was approved. This came as a big surprise. I, for some reason, thought “comme ci, comme ça” was going to fill this gap. Well, it didn’t.

Years in Paris were insane — the best place to be a fashion student, truly. One downside to it — it flew by in the blink of an eye.

I came back to Tbilisi in 2002 — after all this madness, it felt like my parachute had finally opened. I levitated for a few months, then decided to get down to business.

My father had a tiny space he was willing to give me, so I turned it into a workshop — the sign proudly said “INGOROKVA”. I still work with people I hired back then, by the way. After almost twenty years of working side by side, we have been through all kinds of things — good and bad times, sickness, health, and we have always been true to each other. Like in a good marriage.

Being a designer in a country with no fashion industry is not a task for the faint-hearted. But I was young and full of enthusiasm, and since there was no runway, my very first show took place in a theatre. It was a big success. Well. People showed up. It was on TV, too.

Tons of garments, shows, and three kids later, here I am, standing in front of the mirror — no makeup, wearing the pants of my dreams, identifying myself with every woman I ever made a dress for — and I feel so free. Being free is being yourself. Your-hard-to-find-self.

Twos and zeros. Thank you for bringing me back (to life).

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