Roksanda Ilincic dedicated her A/W 17 show to her friend, the late designer, Richard Nicoll. Before the show properly began, a spotlit model made her way down the darkened catwalk, clad in a flowing, belted silk dress in the newly-created Pantone shade Nicoll Blue. It was a fitting tribute and a poignant moment which shadowed one of Nicoll’s own most magical catwalk creations - the Tinkerbell dress, a fluid fibre optic shift which shone down the darkened catwalk before he presented his S/S 15 collection. The fruit of a collaboration with Disney, it was a wonderful example of Nicoll’s incredible creativity and passion which really is a tremendous loss. All those assembled were surely caught up in the beauty of the moment, and their own favourite memories of Nicoll - the man and his work.
But back to the here and now. Once the model had returned backstage, the minimalist musician and composer Michael Nyman - who provided the show soundtrack on a grand piano at one end of the catwalk - switched from a haunting refrain to something more upbeat and the real Roksanda show was underway.
There has been a loosening up to the Roksanda women in recent seasons, and that sense of fluidity continued in a collection with its fair share of long, silk dresses. Some were pin-tucked, others beaded with abstract designs, all were in an energised palette that focused on red - rust, scarlet, crimson - and blue - midnight, cobalt, cornflower. Sleeves were voluminous at the shoulder, tapering down to engulf the hands and wrists in a reverse of her signature bell style. Strapless gowns made for dramatic evening wear. Some dresses were left loose, cocooning the body, others still were cinched with obi-like leather belts. A hint of eastern promise came in origami-like folds that appeared randomly to add a point of interest, which worked well by and large. Ilincic is one of a handful of London designers who give good dress, and this collection certainly played to that strength with few separates, although, of these, a cornflower drape fronted shirt and a dark tailored two-piece and pin-tucked shirt were stand outs.
There’s been a perplexing prevalence of quilted satin in the shows so far this season - eiderdown as outerwear - and Ilincic’s catwalk wasn’t immune. A shiny peach wrap front coat with a drawstring waist was a particularly hard sell, but a white pea coat worked better. Handbags appeared once again in bright leather with circular metal handles, while colourful heeled boots were produced in collaboration with Malone Souliers.
Ahead of her show, in an interview with the New York Times, Ilincic refuted the ‘power dressing’ label that has come her way thanks in part to the First Lady fans of her work - Michelle Obama, Samantha Cameron, Kate Middleton and, now, Melania Trump. But, one thing she can’t deny, is that there’s serious strength in her designs.