Ten Minutes With Designer Roksanda Ilinčić

4 min read
Roksana Ilinčić, photographed by Quentin Jones

“Innovative, emotional, and empowering. These words encapsulate the essence of my designs,” says designer Roksanda Ilinčić

Roksanda Ilinčić debuted her eponymous label in 2005 during London Fashion Week. Fast forward almost two decades and Roksanda has become renowned for audacious, feminine silhouettes and daring colours –  the spring/summer 2024 collection expresses these facets in abundance. Sculptural marvels inspired by monasteries; handwoven, fragile materials juxtaposed with strict tailoring; and a kaleidoscopic colour palette are seen throughout a collection that balances contemporary influences with tradition.

Before beginning her journey in the fashion industry, Roksanda studied architecture at the University of Belgrade, later moving to London and graduating Central Saint Martins with a Master’s degree in Womenswear. Here, MOJEH talks to the designer about her Serbian heritage, how her background inspired the SS24 collection and the connection between architecture and fashion.

How did your heritage inspire the SS24 collection?

My designs are deeply influenced by my Serbian heritage. The SS24 collection draws inspiration from the monasteries Gračanica, Studenica, and Žiča, with their fresco paintings and connection to otherworldly purity. These elements inform the delicate and fragile pieces in the collection, such as traditional robes adorned with handwoven gold threads, which are reimagined in modern forms like fill coupe and printed lamina. My heritage is a constant source of inspiration in my work, allowing me to create pieces that connect with the past while embracing the present.

Can you take us through the process from inspiration to finalising the design?

The design process for each collection is a journey of exploration and creativity. It often begins with a source of inspiration, in the case of SS24, the architectural beauty of London’s Barbican and the influence of my Serbian heritage. From there, it involves research, sketching, and experimenting with fabrics and textures. I work closely with my team, and we pay great attention to every detail, from the choice of fabrics to the color palette. We continually refine and iterate until we achieve a collection that embodies the vision and emotions I want to convey.

The collection features complex structural elements, drapery and delicate metals. Did any piece pose a particular challenge?

Creating complex structural elements and incorporating delicate metals can be challenging. For this collection, the most challenging aspect was the balance between the fluidity of the designs and the inclusion of delicate metals. It’s essential to ensure that these elements harmonize to create a cohesive look that captures both the strength and delicacy of the collection.

Textures, sheer panelling, and screen-printing highlight Roksanda’s innovative craftsmanship. How do you ensure the elements complement one another rather than overwhelm?

Balancing textures, sheer panelling, and screen-printing is an intricate process. It involves a careful selection of materials and techniques, ensuring they enhance rather than overshadow one another. Our team works closely to create a harmonious blend of these elements, allowing each to shine in its own way while contributing to the overall aesthetic of the collection.

Why did you choose to present the SS24 collection at the Barbican?

The Barbican is one of my favourite spaces in London. Its architecture provides a striking contrast to the fluid silhouettes of the SS24 collection. This unique setting not only serves as a backdrop for the collection but also embodies the theme of strength and delicacy that runs through the designs. The Barbican’s architectural beauty aligns with the collection’s ethos, making it the perfect stage to showcase our creations.

The tailoring and structure within the collection reflects the Brutalist architecture of the Barbican. Do you think there are similarities between architecture and fashion?

Absolutely, there are undeniable parallels between architecture and fashion. Both are forms of artistic expression that rely on structure, balance, and aesthetics. The Brutalist architecture of the Barbican, with its strong lines and geometric shapes, resonates with the structured tailoring in the SS24 collection. Fashion, like architecture, has the power to evoke emotions and convey a message through its design, making the relationship between the two art forms a natural fit.

What is the message you would like to convey through this collection?

With the SS24 collection, I aim to express the delicate balance between strength and fragility, drawing inspiration from my Serbian heritage and the Barbican’s architecture. It’s a celebration of femininity and masculinity, a fusion of traditional and modern elements, and an exploration of textures and materials. Ultimately, I want to empower women by creating pieces that reflect their unique and individual personalities.

What are three words you would like the world to associate with Roksanda?

I would say: Innovative, emotional, and empowering. These words encapsulate the essence of my designs.

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