Have you ever had one of those moments where you’re really enjoying something, perhaps a meal from a nice restaurant or a new album from a favorite singer, then something happens at the very end that disrupts the whole thing? I’m getting that feeling from Roksanda Ilincic’s spring/summer 2017 collection. There we were, sailing along quite lovely with beautiful colors and silhouettes, then suddenly she shifts gears for the last seven pieces. Unsettling is probably the safest way to describe the emotion.
For the vast majority of the collection, the pieces are wonderful. One can see why Vogue’s Anna Wintour made this her first show in London to grace with her presence. The lines are clean. The silhouettes are long and flowing. Colors are rich and warm, carefully paired together with precision. This is a standout collection that could add value to the wardrobe of any woman.
Right from the beginning Roksanda gives us a sense of beauty and refinement. Dusty pink slacks with white stripes down the sides are pleated with long, defined lines paired with a white blouse and a long red coat. The look feels good, feels strong, and sets us up well for the collection. What one wants to watch as the collection progresses is the sly way in which she matches colors together. Ms. Ilincic is careful to not be too powerful. There’s a touch of gold along the hem to a red dress, then again in the back folds of another. A burnt orange collar against a solid midnight blue ensemble is reversed in the next look at the orange dominates and blue becomes the trim. Little touches like these, scattered all the way through the collection, are what makes Roksanda’s work stand out.
After a period of creative color matching, Ms. Ilincic moves through a section of contemporary prints reminiscent of abstract paintings. This portion of the collection feels very artistic and the combination of color blocking, print development, and a bit of creative sewing rather gives one the sense of traveling through an art gallery. The silhouettes don’t change dramatically, still long, still flowing, but the emotion shifts from one of serenity to one of thoughtfulness. Both are still subtle and quiet, but there would be a difference in where one might wear a piece from the front of the collection versus one of the more artistic ensembles.
Then, as we’re nearing the end, feeling quite pleasant and happy with what we’ve seen, Ms. Ilincic decides to insert feathers. Not at trim, lying along the edge of a seam or something gentle, but protruding straight out from a white blouse. The visual effect is shocking largely because the rest of the collection has been so very quiet. The next feather is just tossed, seemingly haphazardly, across the top of the dress, and then large feathers appear everywhere over the final two pieces, one black on white, the other reversed. Suddenly, the whole aesthetic of the collection is upset and one isn’t exactly sure why.
I like Roksanda’s work. This is an elegant and well-refined collection. Design students would do well to study the middle portion especially. But the feathers seem dramatically out of place. Maybe we just need a moment—or more coffee.