Knitwear celebrating womanhood and feminism wins DMU's Ria a £2,500 bursary


Cutting-edge knitwear designs celebrating womanhood and feminism have won a De Montfort University fashion student a bursary of £2,500. 

RIA - portrait

Ria Saldeba, a third year Fashion Design student, says when most people think of knitwear ‘they picture a woolly jumper’, but she wants to take the discipline ‘to another level’. 

So mesh, plastic monofilament, metal rings, straps and safety pins all make an appearance within her work which has seen her also draw influences from the world of fetishism.  

Her samples impressed members of The Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters, one of the City of London’s Livery companies whose history dates back to 1589, and they awarded her The Hill Osborne bursary which will allow Ria to source and pay for more experimental threads and high-end materials. 

Ria said: “I am overwhelmed. I keep saying ‘God is great’. I grew up with just my Dad and I am so proud that I have achieved all of this by myself. 

RIA - collection

“I never thought I would get myself to this point but I have now proved that I can. The judges liked the fact I used the word ‘experimenting’ and one of them, who said he was a bit of a nit-picker, found there was nothing negative he could pick out from my designs. The panel told me to keep experimenting and doing exactly what I do. 


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“This year I have focussed on womanhood and feminism, looking at the influence of lingerie to the rise of women’s rights so I wanted to carry on using metal hardware, rings and straps to make something luxurious and decadent but also contradicting with vulnerability and exposure. 

“People have asked ‘why knitwear?’ I have always had a passion for making my own fabrics to exactly how I can imagine them. I feel like as though the fabric I create does the talking and expresses who I am as a designer. 

 “The Fashion Design course and DMU are amazing. It can be challenging at times and you certainly have to be committed and focussed to become a fashion designer. But I know I am really ambitious and, to me, failing is not an option.” 

RIA - close-up

Della Swain, DMU Fashion Design Course Leader, said: “This is a well-deserved award for Ria. She has shown amazing resilience and creativity in her work and been really experimental in her approach to knitwear. 

“It has been a challenging term as Ria has had to achieve so much so I am absolutely thrilled. It could not have happened to a more deserving student as she has put her heart and soul into this. 

“The bursary will enable Ria to source more expensive materials for her work and really push her out of any comfort zone.” 

The Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters statement reads: "The Hill Osborne Bursary of £2500 was awarded to Ria Saldeba. This was achieved by an excellent interview where articulation and passion were present. She exhibited project support to create her own specifications and develop her knitwear ideas.

"The interview displayed a strong knowledge of knitting and an ability to project ideas that used different yarns and materials that focused on her final collection."

Posted on Friday 16th February 2018

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