LONDON, United Kingdom — There was a shocker as Roksanda Ilincic addressed journalists after her show today. This season, no artist was referenced. Not that it hindered the colour-blocked dresses in nuanced yellows, blacks and pale pinks from looking like distant relatives of Yves Saint Laurent’s famous Mondrian dress. Maybe Ilincic just felt she didn’t need a name to drop post show and wanted to let the dresses be her own creations, reflecting her excellent feel for colour and shape.
Instead her starting point was ballet and “the strength of a woman when she’s dancing.” It wasn’t so much about stage costumes but rather the emotion conveyed in contemporary dance. Naturally, she had been a regular at Sadler’s Wells in London over the past year, but you could also point to the Ballets Russes and Ballets Suédois who both worked closely with modernist painters such as Pablo Picasso and Fernand Léger. Having done her research Ilincic must have seen the connection between her own love of cubism and the costumes of those dance troupes.
Roksanda the brand has had quite a journey from couture-inspired, often over-wrought dresses almost ten years ago to something that appeals to fashion-forward ladies of money and power. Counting Samantha Cameron as a fan, you might call the style edgy-conservative. The strength of Ilincic's clothes lies in their ability to make women look good and stand out. It’s not as simple as it sounds. The key tools here are strong colours and interesting shapes, but the important development she has made is learning to put a minimalist filter over her previous predisposition for excess.
While today's collection featured some throwbacks (Ilincic revisited satin in a few supple long dresses) and some new elements (a wide-legged jumpsuit that did come a little too close to Céline’s Spring/Summer 2015 version), overall it was a continuation of a winning formula: bold, but ultimately safe, statement dressing. With her penchant for dramatic, Victorian sleeves in full force in this collection, she is joining forces — or arms — with J.W. Anderson for Spring. That can only be a good thing.