‘I am so proud these incredible women find a common thread in my clothes’

London-based designer Roksanda Ilinicic has dressed Melania Trump and Lady Gaga and said her clothes ‘shelter’ rather than ‘empower’ women

Melania Trump wears a white dress by London based Serbian designer Roksanda Illinic. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Melania Trump wears a white dress by London based Serbian designer Roksanda Illinic. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

 

She has dressed Michelle Obama, Melania Trump, Lady Gaga, Tilda Swinton, the Duchess of Cambridge, Samantha Cameron and Roisin Murphy among others; women with very different styles. Roksanda Ilincic, the 47-year-old London based Serbian fashion designer paid her first visit to Dublin last week to showcase her spring/summer collection in Brown Thomas and introduce her debut range of handbags.

Designer Roksanda at Brown Thomas. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland
Designer Roksanda at Brown Thomas. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

“I am so proud that these incredible women find a common thread in my clothes and choose to wear them for important moments in their lives,” she says of her celebrity clients. Tall and willowy, she suits the languid jumpsuits, long, loose dresses and flowing printed skirts that hang on the rails behind her.

She describes her style as “celebrating femininity in a modern way” and that her clothes “shelter” women, a word she prefers to “empower”.

The colour combinations – coffee with pale orange, dusty pink with mustard, gold with chocolate – are very much her own. “When I started nobody was doing colour, nobody was doing dresses. It wasn’t considered modern, but when you live in a country with so much sun and people don’t wear much black I was never afraid of colour,” she says.

A graduate of Central St Martins where her talent was nurtured by the legendary Professor Louise Wilson, Ilincic’s first break was when Browns Mayfair boutique bought her first collection in 2005. But it was when Michelle Obama wore a navy dress with metal embroidery during the Chinese President’s State visit to the US that marked the beginning of international recognition “and people started to perceive me in a different way,” she recalls.

The dress was full length with wide sleeves and Obama wore it with long navy gloves. “Sleeves are my passion and that part of the body where I like to go wild,” she smiles. Another white balloon sleeved dress called the Margot also hit the headlines when Melania Trump wore it for her speech at the Republican National Convention in July 2016 having spotted (and paid for it) on net-a-porter.

Ilincic has notched up many awards including Business Woman of the Year and Red Carpet Designer of the Year and her collections are now stocked in 40 countries around the world. Her business has grown organically but her big step was fulfilling a dream to open her own shop which she did in a historic building in Mount Street three years ago having secured an investor.

“There has been incredible progress and I was able to start my accessories range along with separates and tailoring outerwear - all the things I would not have been able to do otherwise”.

Her new bags (some six styles with starting prices around €705 euro) are beautifully crafted and free of logos or labels. “I wanted them to stand on their own right – they are not “It” bags, but discreet and have my point of view”.

There are plans for further expansion, more shops, more accessories she want to expand her offering because she is “ambitious” and wants “to grow”. 

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