The Wick - Roksanda Portrait, photography by Quentin Jones The Wick - Roksanda Portrait, photography by Quentin Jones
Monday Muse

Interview Fashion Designer Roksanda Ilinčić

Quentin Jones
27 March 2023
Quentin Jones
27 March 2023
After originally studying Architecture and Applied Arts at the University of Belgrade, Roksanda Ilinčić moved to London to complete an MA in Womenswear at Central Saint Martins and launch her eponymous high fashion label to critical acclaim in 2005.

In the time since, ROKSANDA has become known for its daring use of colour, unabashed femininity, modern distinctive cuts, innovative use of fabrics, and connection to the art world. Ilinčić regularly collaborates with like-minded female artists and arts institutions internationally, including the Royal Opera House where she recently dressed stars from the Royal Ballet for Valentino Zucchetti’s world premiere of “Prima”.

The brand was also founded to be a platform that champions, celebrates and highlights other female voices. Today, we’re celebrating Ilinčić herself as this week’s Monday Muse.

THE WICK:   What does your typical Monday look like?

Roksanda Ilinčić:   Every day brings unique opportunities and challenges. No day is the same. However, I do like to have structure within my studio. After dropping my daughter to school, Monday mornings are usually dedicated to various meetings with my wonderful team. The rest of the day is always focused on the creative process, exploring, and reimagining fresh concepts for my new collections. Every evening I like to spend with my family. However, if I have enough energy, I love exploring and discovering new productions at the theatre. The Royal Opera House and Sadler’s Wells are two of my favourites.

TW:   How does your brand celebrate women?

RI:   There are so many challenges that come with being a woman. I wanted to create a platform that honours that forceful yet graceful strength that I have been so privileged to see in all the extraordinary women who are part of my world and community. Challenging the traditional notions of beauty, I always aspire to reveal a woman’s personality while creating a sense of comfort, femininity and belonging.

TW:   The concept of ‘shelter’ is key to your designs. How does it influence the wider ROKSANDA label?

RI:   I am continuously challenging myself to connect with women on a level that can’t be explained but can be felt. The ability clothing has to change our mood and emotions is so often underestimated. I like my designs to give women that special feeling of standing out while being sheltered at the same time. This theme of protection and nurturing also expands into other parts of my brand. I love discovering new, incredible female artists and makers, giving them a safe space to curate and exhibit their work within the window gallery at my store at 9 Mount Street. Irina Razumovskaya’s craft is our most recent addition, exploring the nature and consequences of control and restriction, taking inspiration from archaeology and architecture to create evocative visions of urban landscapes. It is so wonderful for me to see another, younger artist sharing the same influences and disciplinaries that inspire me and my creative work.

TW:   Why did you decide to pursue fashion instead of architecture?

RI:   Back home, there were not so many opportunities within the industry so fashion was never the natural choice. However, from an early age, I always observed my mother’s wardrobe in all its beauty, with its unusual fabrics and soft and structural forms. So, I think this longing to design was always within me. Having studied Applied Arts in Belgrade, I continued with a master’s degree in Womenswear at Central Saint Martins and it was the right decision. I always believed that clothes, like buildings, represent a sense of refuge, sheltering and belonging. A dear friend once described my home as walking into one of my dresses. I really love that comment, it continues to remind me how architecture will always be ever-present within my designs.

“Challenging the traditional notions of beauty, I always aspire to reveal a woman’s personality while creating a sense of comfort, femininity and belonging.”

TW:   In your practice, you bring fashion, art, architecture and dance together. How do each of these disciplines inspire your work?

RI:   I always see my creations and designs as part of a multidisciplinary process. This celebrates art, dance, architecture, but also written word and poetry, as seen in my latest show. For my SS22 show, hosted at the Serpentine, the incredible Holly Blakey choreographed an emotional dance performance perfectly tying together not just all the disciplines, but also capturing incredibly powerful emotions of where we were as a society after the lockdown.

TW:   Considering your recent collaboration with the Royal Ballet, how does movement connect to the flow of a garment?

RI:   That was a beautiful moment and I feel so honoured to have collaborated with such incredible talents. When creating, I always keep the moving human at the forefront of my mind. There is something so special about the way movement can transform the shape and structure of a garment, showing it through the lens of fluidity, duality and freedom.

TW:   You have also worked with the likes of Eva Rothschild, the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and Ella Kruglyanskaya. How would you like to see art and fashion collaborate in the future?

RI:   I am so lucky to have collaborated with all these incredible creatives and feel honoured by what we have achieved together. At the moment, I am so delighted to see such a vast amount of fashion brands collaborating with artists and new artists being open to lending their craft to our industry. I am a strong believer that all art forms should be connected and that only by having as many different perspectives we can achieve the most wonderful results.

TW:   After a runway show, where is your go-to restaurant to celebrate with your team?

RI:   Celebrating with my wonderful team is always one of the many highlights of my shows. We are all very tired afterwards so, depending on the show venue, we like to go somewhere close. However, regardless of our shows, we always love to revisit Bistrotheque. It is a team favourite where many happy memories have been made.

TW:   Where is your favourite culturally curious spot in London?

RI:   There are so many but Studio Voltaire is definitely a favourite. It is a wonderful non-profit arts organisation based in Clapham who nurture and spotlight underrepresented artists. Exciting events, exhibitions, collaborative projects and residences are only a few of the amazing opportunities offered. Through them, I have discovered so many incredible creatives.

TW:   If you could own any piece of art, what would it be?

RI:   The incredible artist and sculptress Phyllida Barlow very recently sadly passed away. Her unique use of everyday materials such as plywood, painted cardboard, compressed wood and polystyrene will continue to inspire me. Her craft spoke of reparation, damage and regeneration and I wish I had a piece of her extraordinary legacy.

TW:   If you could take a book, song, and person to a desert island, what and who would you take?

RI:   Arcadia by Arch Hades would be the book. She recently recited her incredible poetry at my autumn/winter 2023 show and her words always bring so many memories and feelings. Kate Bush is a long-time favourite, so any of her songs could be played on repeat. In terms of a person, it would have to be my daughter Efimia and my husband Philip.

TW:   Who is your ultimate Monday Muse?

RI:   There is not one but many. All the wonderful women who are part of the ROKSANDA community are my Monday Muses and, of course, my daughter Efimia.

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