Transfixing. Roksanda SS22

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.

All About The Silhouette. Roksanda AW21

Roksanda is another London-based brand that I haven’t mentioned for a while on my site. This might be the biggest advantage of slower, extended fashion months – going through more shows, without a bigger rush. The autumn-winter 2021 collection coming from Roksanda Ilincic is fabulous. The new season offering was presented today in two formats: a look-book and video. Nothing shocking here, as it’s the new showing standard in COVID times. But the video part was especially done well, and it elevated the garments in a beautiful, considered way. Listening to Vanessa Redgrave softly recite William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73 is without a doubt the most soothing thing you’ll hear today. Watch her gaze out the window of her daughter Joely Richardson’s countryside home as her granddaughter Daisy Bevan brings the family’s winter garden back to life via voluminous ruffle and bow-adorned gowns in shades of honeycomb, vermillion, meadow blush, sienna and celadon, and you’ll start plotting your escape from the city. In a short yet wonderfully transportive insight into the lives of three generations of incredible women, Roksanda communicates fashion’s inextricable link to familial bonds in all their fragility, strength and tenderness. The new season pieces are all about entrance-making silhouettes, which are not only bold, but comfortable – not your usual pairing. Intricate pintucks help to create dramatic volume on dresses that cocoon their wearers, while tailoring – a big focus for the brand this season – is made as impactful as the dresses via bold colour blocking and modular sleeves that can be worn open, draped or closed. Additionally, Ilincic’s sensual illustrations worked as subtle, well-balanced prints that contributed to this very personal collection.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.