Fall 2023 Ready-to-Wear

Roksanda Ilincic convenes an increasingly powerful intimacy and female-centered emotion around herself. There was a monumentality, almost a mysterious presence amongst the half-veiled, caped, fluidly draped, and sculptural pieces she sent out before a small audience at Claridges. The atmosphere was charged by a live reading by Arch Hades, a woman poet, and a client and friend whose dialogue urged mental independence from the complications of being watched, and a solitary confrontation with life, mortality, and what can console us beyond that.

“Her work felt very genuine to me,” said Ilincic afterwards. She’s not a narrative designer in any sense, but there was a readable gravity and dignity caught up in the flow of her collection. There were needle-punched colors radiating boldly across black coats and blankets. The back of a jacket of a bisque-beige trouser suit was bisected into extended trails, to be wrapped upwards, to create abstract possibilities for free-style head-covering, or the nonchalant fling of a scarf across the shoulder.

It was the same with the various satin dresses she sent out in yellow, pink, and red, each draped with an integrated, adaptable train. As a woman of the world, Roksanda’s travels have opened her eyes to understanding how women dress on social occasions across many cultures. At one point, she styled a blanket over the head, a fleeting moment that seemed to telegraph eastern European folk custom. It wasn’t incidental. “Yes,” she agreed. “That is the way women wear it back home.”

Roksanda left post-Soviet Union Serbia 20 years ago, an art student from Belgrade who was accepted by the formidable late Professor Louise Wilson to study at Central Saint Martins. Her father died last year; it may have partly accounted for the melancholic, contemplative tone of the proceedings.

They took a turn toward the conceptual and sculptural at the end, when swooping 3-D shapes held up by curvilinear tubes began to walk out. Later, she explained how she’d been looking into the work of the post World War II Japanese artist Atsuko Tanaka.

The contextualization of fashion shows with the involvement of artists is à la mode these days. Frequently these guest performances can come off as distracting, unrelated add-ons for publicity’s sake, but there’s a truth in Ilincic’s relationships with women across the arts. Many, indeed, are her customers.

This article was originally published on Vogue Runway.

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