Continuing fashion's ever-evolving relationship with dance, Roksanda Ilinčić is the latest designer to lend their hand to costume design for The Royal Ballet. The commission commemorates the ROH's A Diamond Celebration and will see the Serbian designer's eponymous label ROKSANDA create bespoke costumes for dancer and choreographer Valentino Zucchetti's latest piece Prima, performed by Principal dancers Francesca Hayward, Fumi Kanako, Mayara Magri and Yasmine Naghdi.
'I grew up going to the ballet back home in Belgrade,' Roksanda told Vogue. 'I would go with my mother to see the classics, and then once a year, there is a festival of modern dance, which is where I was introduced to the likes of Pina Bausch. What I loved most was seeing the costumes on the dancers – it's totally different to seeing clothes at a fashion show. I always approach my designs as sculptures that need to be seen in motion, so when I was approached by the Royal Opera House, it felt like a natural fit – and a great honour, of course.'
Roksanda's signature use of colour and distinctive cuts make this pairing a match made in heaven, with the utmost priority on allowing duality and freedom of movement for the dancers. Specifically commissioned by Zucchetti to work on the costumes for his 12-minute ensemble, the choreographer knew from the get-go he wanted to work with a female designer 'to reflect the girls' characters and temperaments through colour in a bold way'.
Ilinčić is a long-time supporter of the Royal Ballet and has even cited dance as a significant influence on her previous collections, such as when she worked with choreographer Holly Blakey on her S/S 22 presentation which was staged at the 2021 Serpentine Pavilion. Neither is this the first time Ilinčić has worked with the ROH; she reimagined its traditionally blush-pink silk slippers as part of ROH Unlocked festival during the pandemic, making her the perfect fit in Zucchetti's eyes to bring his vision to life.
Going back to the magnificence of ROKSANDA's S/S 22 collection unveiled last summer, these designs influenced her work for Prima. Accompanied by intricate boning that lifts up the fabric, the garments are specifically created in such a way that only amplifies each movement the dancers make onstage, simultaneously emphasising the duality of femininity. 'Women can be gentle, kind and empathetic in one situation, and very independent, fearless and focused in another, and that's exactly what Valentino is trying to honour with Prima' Ilinčić clarified in her Vogue interview.