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: C I C N I L I A D N ROK S A

HOW I MAKE

She spent high school sewing on buttons and hemming her uniform before signing on to a double degree in fashion and architecture. “I didn’t want to not study fashion, something that I loved so much, but I also wanted to have something more secure.” Pretty early on, she just knew that designing frocks – not multiplexes – was her destiny.

COLOUR

WORK

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FASHION GENEALOGY 8 $ 58 SE, Ilincic . U a BLO sand n.com k io ESTES6 ) , Ro esfash 1 h c 6 t ( ma f rom

Growing up in Yugoslavia (now Serbia), Roksanda always had a sixth sense for design. “I always wanted to change my dolls and how they looked,” she says. “I used to customise them, with terrible results.” She credits her mother, a pharmacist – with a penchant for Yves Saint Laurent – for seeing the hidden talent beneath all those badly dressed Barbie dolls. “My mother would often go on business trips to Milan and Paris, so she built a magnificent collection of clothes. She’d have things made for me from fabric offcuts of her dresses.” Both saw their wardrobes as a creative refuge from the everyday. “Fashion is something that can elevate you spiritually, mentally and physically to something better.”

Roksanda’s years of studying architecture didn’t go to waste, though. The core principles of her education became the signatures of her sleekly tailored separates, moulded dresses and swimwear. “There are two levels in which architecture infiltrates my fashion world; one is more the sculptural, 3D effects of texture, and the other is all the constructions that are not visible but lie under my garments – I want to make them as light as possible and easy to wear.” She knows what works for women and her designs make getting dressed in a hurry (while still looking polished) almost too easy. Roksanda is one of those people who has it innately together. Even for our last-minute interview in Sydney, she arrives entirely unruffled, with hair so shiny I can practically see myself in it. She admits that her first show in 2005, five years after graduating from Central Saint Martins (the design college that counts Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen as alumni), was a disaster. Working with a grad’s budget (five pairs of shoes for 15 models), chaos ensued. “It ended up with me crying, thinking I’d never make

TRY THIS AT HOME

“I like to mix colours that are quite clashing, or position one bright colour with something more neutral so it comes across as a ‘pop’,” says Roksanda. Going bold doesn’t have to be scary. “If you have just a little colour love in your bones, introduce some elements, even if they’re subtle. Wear a dress with a cuff in a bright colour, or accessorise with a belt or a statement pair of shoes,” she suggests. The real secret to her success is seeing beauty where you’d least expect it – Roksanda showed us an iPhone snap of the red, green and yellow wheelie bin lids that line Sydney streets and hinted that we’ll see those shades again in a few seasons. She makes us want to break all the rules (“I don’t believe in colours for certain skin types or ‘rules’ like that. I’m a strong believer that anything looks nice on anybody as long as they believe it’s the right choice for them”) and toss everything black we own out the window. But we’ll keep them for now… in case of emergency.

colour me happy WOOL BLEND WIDE LEG PANTS, $547 (sml-xlge), Paul Smith from stylebop.com.

keller Top, $568 (6-16), Roksanda Ilincic from matches fashion.com.

Designer Brands Extend A Lash Colour Tubing Mascara in Purple, $12.99, dbcosmetics.com.au. lamont Skirt, $723 (6-16), Roksanda Ilincic from matches fashion.com.

alcott Dress, $1558 (6-16), Roksanda Ilincic from matches fashion.com.

Shoes, $139.95, Windsor Smith, windsorsmith.com.au.

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ew fashion designers could convince Gaga that her dresses don’t have to be made of prime rib, silicon bubbles or spandex to get front page coverage, but Roksanda Ilincic can. London’s patron saint of colour gets calls from all corners for a best-dressed moment – Kate Middleton has worn her asymmetric-neckline Peridot dress twice. First Lady Michelle Obama broke out a full-skirted royal purple frock on three occasions. If you haven’t heard the name, trust us, you’ve seen her designs. So why should you know Roksanda Ilincic? Because she understands the way clothes should fit on your body, while managing to reprogram that outdated theory that allblack is the only way to look all-chic.

photography: tobias rowles. still-life styling: laura collins; bree player; iantha yu. still-life photography: rodney macuja. getty images.

OP T S

GINNIER GOODWIN

Her designs light up runways and red carpets with kaleidoscopic brilliance. Ready to refresh? Designer to the A-list Roksanda Ilincic shows us how she spins the colour wheel. by LAURA COLLINS

NOT JUST A PRETTY DRESS

anything in fashion. But then wonderful Lulu [Kennedy, Roksanda’s mentor and fairy godmother of rising London fashion] came backstage with the biggest smile on her face. She said that everybody loved it.” Roksanda’s free-thinking colour logic keeps starlets like Ginnifer Goodwin, Emma Stone and Rita Ora coming back for more. She was first drawn to colours because her fellow designers were so devoted to greyscale, and, rather than referencing trend palettes, she’ll only ever follow her gut instinct on which shades will be right for a season.

Australis Colour Inject Lipstick in Electro, $12.95, australiscosmetics.com.au. shoptilyoudrop.com.au f

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