Dispatches from London: Roksanda

Poetry in motion

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No artists this season? ‘No artists this season,’ laughed Roksanda Ilincic after her SS16 show. The idea that Roksanda hadn’t been looking at an eclectic range of artists for inspiration was (almost) shocking, since she so often does. But it made sense. Aside from the Gary Card set – of sculpted curved wood – that has become her show-staging signature, it was clear Roksanda wanted to say something new. ‘It was a departure!' she said. 'Time to move on.'

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Her new obsession was ballet. Over the past year, she had seen performances at Sadler’s Wells and her dance research had taken her all the way back to the 1920s. ‘It wasn’t a particular ballet I had in mind,’ she explained, ‘It was more about the emotion and strength of a woman when she’s dancing; I wanted to express this in clothing.’ That translated as both power and fragility, her long silhouetted dresses fluid and soft in delicate blue, pink and lemon, versus, say, a pair of trousers with a scroll of duchess satin unfurling down one leg. It meant powder blue shot through with acid orange on a strapless playsuit, or a sunflower-yellow skirt flowing from a sculpted black body. Abstract shapes appeared on slim satin slips, keyhole cut-outs made small windows on the skin and frayed organza fluttered over shoulders.
 
The last three looks were poetry in motion. Had they been inspired by Matthew Bourne’s avant-garde Swan Lake? They were nothing like Royal Ballet tutus. Each long dress had been made from 60 metres of organza squares, and every square took 15 minutes to fray by hand. ‘Can you imagine?’ she asked. ‘We started early this season!’

 
No doubt we’ll be seeing them on a red carpet soon – Cate Blanchett in the powder-pink organza? That, and the rest of the collection, will keep her devotees in Roksanda heaven.
 

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