'There's nothing nicer than a woman you respect wearing your designs'
Fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic's creations are being snapped up by A-listers, go-getters and change-makers the world over. Here she chats about the evolution of her label
When big-league women need to make an impact, Roksanda Illincic is, invariably, the fashion designer they call upon.
Michelle Obama first wore a dress by the Serbian-born, UK-based fashion designer when visiting Westminster Abbey in 2011; Samantha Cameron wore one of her designs when she bid farewell to Downing Street in July and, not to be outdone, Melania Trump chose an Ilincic bell-sleeved dress to wear to the Republican National Convention. It later sold out on the high-end website from which she bought it.
After 10 years in the industry, Illinic has carved out a niche for creating show-stopping occasionwear for women who are in full command of themselves. Here, in her own words, she talks about the ups and downs of the fashion industry.
MY MUM WAS a huge inspiration. That's probably the reason I'm so passionate about fashion, because she introduced me to it from an early age through her own passion.
I'M A PERSON who loves women. I'm a girl's girl, and I always felt that sisterhood very strongly, even when I was growing up. I always felt that there is something very special as a bond.
I WAS ALWAYS very aware of how I can help out women in doing this, and therefore I'm always very aware of my friends and my colleagues and great women in the public eye who have been wearing me. There's nothing nicer than seeing one of your dresses on a woman you respect.
THAT CONNECTION WITH a person at a show is very important, because the emotions that they take out are what makes you relevant and what makes you desirable.
MY SHOWS ARE always all about colours and shapes and textures. There is quite a lot going on. I always like my models to feel that they can go straight from the catwalk to some real event outside of the fashion show.
WHEN I STARTED, I only had two collections a year, and now I have a zillion collections a year. I'm a mother and I have a little daughter, and there are a lot of things you have to fit in a day, but you just have to find your own speed and to grow your business without burning out.
AN ELEMENT OF suspense is very important in fashion, because you don't want to become somebody that everybody knows what the next collection is going to be about.
IT'S GOOD TO challenge yourself, but also to challenge your customer, because it's good to offer something that the customer doesn't necessarily know or feel that they needed.
I THINK THE speed of fashion is definitely challenging for designers, because as a designer you need time to come up with fresh ideas and reflect on what was good and what was bad about the previous ones, and you also need time to develop them.
AT THE END of the day, what's most important is to still enjoy what you do, and I think that passion comes through the work. I'm happy to say I'm still enjoying what I'm doing very, very much, and I think that's probably what matters the most.
PEOPLE USED TO say I was only designing for tall and skinny women, but I felt that was a little bit unfair, because I always felt like I was trying to create something that will make women very comfortable, very self-confident and empowered, no matter what age or shape or size they are.
OVER THE [last] 10 years, I've witnessed women of many different shapes and sizes coming up to me and saying 'thank you for creating this for my shape, I have a big bust or voluptuous hips', whatever it may be, and I was always very proud of that.
THE ROKSANDA ILINCIC woman likes to dress not to please others but to please herself. She's somebody who is very inquisitive and interested in many different things, she's very independent and very modern. Somebody who likes and enjoys fashion for her own sake."