Trite and tired as the idea of 'trends' seems in our multi-faceted fashion landscape, come spring 2012 the sixties are undoubtedly back. Even Roksanda Ilincic, the always dressed-up odd one out on the London fashion scene, looked back to the decades clean crisp lines for her latest collection. But naturally this wasn't the sixties of Quant and Biba, or even Pierre Cardin. Ilincic had the ballooning grandeur of Balenciaga in mind when she sliced her cocooning coats and bell-shaped skirts from firm oatmeal wool and acid-pink gazar.
Did Ilincic achieve her aim. Almost. The trouble with alluding to Cristobal Balenciaga is the simple fact that your technique will inevitably fall short. In the past, that's been part of Ilincic's charm: clunky seams and unfinished, unravelling hems were part of her aesthetic, adding some much-needed edge to her otherwise staid creations. She's polished out those homegrown elements by and large, but rather than seeming intentionally raw, her clothes now tend to hang heavy with the extra effort. For spring, rather than evoking the awe-inspiring precision of Balenciaga, her collection had the air of a second-string London couture house circa 1965, turning out mumsy, mid-calf cocktail dresses for drab debutantes while the rest of the capital was swinging. Take from that what you will about Ilincic's place amongst the luminaries of London Fashion Week these past few seasons.
There was a touch of Hardy Amies to Ilincic's arts-and-crafts windowpane checks and daubed peony prints, lantern-sleeve cloque evening gowns and slouchy suiting. Exactly where the idea for cramming imbecilic knitted snoods on her models' heads came from is hazy, likewise the Steptoe And Son touch of rope belts wrapping the waistbands of capacious trousers. Perhaps off-duty shots of Her Majesty in the country in hardy Hardy tweedery? About the only nice thing you could say about that particularly searing shade of green Ilincic pumped through her collection is that it wouldn't show the grass-stains.