Kate Middleton dress designer on her handbag line, fashion trends and the joys of living in London
Michelle Obama, the Duchess of Cambridge and Tilda Swinton are all fans of Roksanda Ilincic. The London-based Serbian reveals her plans for the future and her on-trend picks of today
Plenty has changed since Serbian-raised London-based designer Roksanda Ilincic last visited Hong Kong in 2012. Although she continues to have a cult following among stylish and powerful women, including Michelle Obama, the Duchess of Cambridge and Tilda Swinton, her business has flourished after a minority investment from Indian businesswoman Eiesha Bharti Pasricha.
After opening her first boutique in London, she has expanded her offerings to include a fully fledged handbag line, which showcases her love of colour and geometric details.
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“I wanted to introduce bags in a different way. The market is so saturated, it was important that we had a strong point of view. The collection speaks to our DNA with the colours and architectural shapes, but at the same time it’s feminine,” she says.
“I’m not a fan of hardware so it’s not used in a classical way for closures but as handles, so it becomes part of the design. We have bags you can wear with everything and every day, but also that bag that doesn’t go with anything, which I love even more.”
Ilincic is often referred to as a “woman’s” designer thanks to her elegant yet easy pieces that feature bold shapes, bright colours and couture details and appeal to those with a strong personal style.
She also unveiled a new capsule collection for Lane Crawford inspired by Russian avant-garde artist Olga Rozanova. The six styles feature abstract patterns and range from tailored tops with billowing sleeves to shift dresses with patches of colour.
“For this collection in particular we have adjusted the proportions so they are more suited to petite body types. We have so many customers buying dresses straight off the catwalk but sometimes I feel they can be too long or voluminous for real women. This will be an interesting experiment,” she says.
As for the future, Illincic says she plans to build the business slowly and steadily, although one thing you won’t see her doing any time soon is embrace fashion’s current penchant for hoodies and sneakers.
“I love wearing sneakers but I am not a designer that gravitates towards that. The great thing about fashion is that it’s becoming friendlier to different lifestyles, which works to my advantage because what we do feels so different. My outfits have a double edge – they are dressy but relaxed. And you can wear them with sneakers too,” she says with a laugh.
Ilincicalso shared some style pointers and talked about some of her favourite spots in London, her adopted home.
I always love a statement lip so red lipstick is essential. I wear different shades from M.A.C. depending on my mood, but my favourite is Lady Danger. My perfume is Une Rose by Frederic Malle, which I’ve been using for more than 10 years. My skin is very sensitive so I only use La Roche-Posay products.
“I always pack flats by Alvaro, which are super comfortable and very well made. A swimsuit is an essential for me – the weather in London is so miserable so I want to swim whenever I travel. Last but not least – a bunch of my dresses because they work for any occasion.”
Where to stay and go in London
When it comes to hotels I am not experimental so I love classics such as The Connaught and Claridges. A new favourite is The Beaumont. In terms of cool areas, East London is still happening. I love the weekend flower market on Columbia Road, but I also spent a lot of time at Broadway market near Dalston. The scene there is just buzzing with pubs, restaurants and shops, including fantastic bookshops.
I love the Tate Modern or Tate Britain. You can really experience a melting pot of ideas, and as soon as I walk in I feel I am being embraced by what’s happening now. They are always a step ahead of the rest of the world. The building itself is also beautiful. I also recommend The Serpentine Gallery.
I love Austrian cafe Fischer’s on Marylebone High Street, which looks old world but that always delivers on food. Another hidden favourite is Uma in Mayfair. When you arrive you just see a little door with a curtain, but it has the best Japanese food in London.
“I usually go back home to Belgrade or else I hop on a flight to Montenegro or Formentera. I love the idea of being on a deserted island surrounded by beautiful beaches and people you don’t know.”