By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Featuring a small collection of hand-picked designers, Frey Kalioubi is a fashion-led boutique that sells some of Rio’s most cutting-edge clothes. The shop opened in July in Praça Tiradentes, a once-bustling seventeenth century square in Centro.
After looking at many neighborhoods including Leblon and Ipanema, Amran Frey, the owner, decided to open in Praça Tiradentes. The square, which is home to many large but sometimes neglected buildings, has in recent years become popular with artists and designers, many of whom have opened galleries and studios in the area.
“After close to a year of research in various parts of the city, I realized that almost every time I go to see an interesting exhibition in Rio it happens to be around Praça Tiradentes. I don’t think one can find this concentration of quality culture anywhere else in the city,” explains Frey.
Now his neighbors include A Gentil Carioca, a gallery founded by artists Marcio Botner, Laura Lima and Ernesto Neto; Studio X, part of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and independent art space Largo das Artes, as well Centro Carioca de Design, Centro Hélio Oiticica and a handful of theaters.
“What makes big cities interesting to me is that they host all kinds of things within a square mile: business and culture, rich and poor, working and living, for example,” says Frey. “While I love many of the neighborhoods in Zonal Sul for their proximity to the beach or for their cosiness, I think Centro has the potential to offer the most interesting mix.”
Frey Kalioubi is located on the second floor of a 1920s house on the west side of Praça Tiradentes. It was built by Portuguese bakers who still own much of it. The space is light and airy and is used for exhibitions and events alongside the boutique. Visitors are encouraged to linger over coffee and peruse the small bookshop as well as the clothes racks.
Stocking a refined collection of around ten designers, the store has clothes for both men and women. “Almost all the brands we sell are from Rio, we also have a few international ones and some from São Paulo. We focus on upcoming designers and sell products one doesn’t find in the shopping centers, most of our brands have a quite limited distribution, including collections we sell at Frey Kalioubi exclusively,” says Frey.
“The selection of the clothes very much reflects my personal taste, we have a lot of clean designs, simple cuts and high-quality materials. At the same time I think the selection we have in the store is very Rio, not so much in the form of floral prints and sexy cuts, but in the sense that the designs share a playful, relaxed and natural look.”
Luiza Marcier ran À Colecionadora for fifteen years. Now she designs her own eponymous brand which is stocked at Frey Kalioubi. There are also clothes and bags by Muggia, a label that was started in 2003 by twin sisters Anna and Juliana Suassuna, both of whom work at Osklen and Haight is a relatively young Carioca brand that manages to take swimwear design from the beach to the street. Ceramic jewellery by Maíra Senise is also for sale, as well as sunglasses made from recycled wood by Carioca boys, Zerezes.
Frey, who is German-Egyptian, went to university in Berlin and then Columbia Law School, before interning in galleries in Cairo and New York. He then came to Brazil and worked with Marcier, who is also a fashion professor at PUC University in Rio. There he gathered the inspiration to open his own space. The name Frey Kalioubi is a combination of his surname and father’s family name.
Frey Kalioubi, located on the second floor, 73 Praça Tiradentes, Centro, is open Monday to Saturday, 11AM to 7PM.