Roksanda‘s spring-summer 2022 collection is a release of pure endorphin! Roksanda Ilincic staged her fashion show at the Serpentine Pavilion, which was designed this year by Johannesburg-based practice Counterspace, directed by Sumayya Vally. Vally is the youngest architect ever to be commissioned for the project, and she sat front row. “I went to the Serpentine and I met Sumayya, who is a woman who loves and appreciates fashion – and she was super keen that I have my show there,” recalled Ilincic during a preview at her studio in East London. “I loved the space,” she said, referring to the structure, designed to reference London’s informal meeting spaces significant to migrant communities, from the Fazl Mosque to Mangrove, Notting Hill’s Caribbean restaurant. “I also loved that her color scheme was inspired by the many shades of London’s sky, from light pinks and grays through to black. It has a serenity and a calmness – it almost makes you want to meditate.” But there was no meditating here as Ilincic transformed the pavilion into a stage, enlisting a dance troupe to perform an emotive piece about the narratives of women and their relationships, tensions, and power struggles – the kind of human interactions that have been heightened after 18 months of on/off lockdown. She managed to whittle her 50-look collection down to just 16. “I think the pandemic has pushed me to be freer and to approach my show differently; it’s given me the guts to do that and perhaps be a little more nonconformist,” said Ilincic. “Also we have been so deprived of theater and performance of any kind, so I wanted to do something special.” Choreographed by Holly Blakey, the show was an immersive performance – it made the clothes really move. Her vividly colored voluminous silk dresses inflated with every rigorous movement, ballooning with air before gently collapsing like parachutes. Some were printed with extracts from a selection of Joan Didion’s work; others were painted in big, broad, “almost angry” brushstrokes. More artsy pieces, like a plasticized full skirt and mac, were created in fil coupe organza and then machine bonded, so what looked like paint scribbles were actually loose threads sandwiched. Other designs boasted boned hemlines and cuffs that curled, twisted, and bounced around the body. They seemed to defy all gravity, taking on a life of their own. The effect was beautifully chaotic. It had everything: drama, passion, and creativity in abundance. It was transfixing.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.