10 Questions With Roksanda as we Exclusively Premiere the Designer’s SS21 Film Spotlighting 15 Inspiring Women
As we spent a large chunk of September trudging through digital fashion by the bulk load, London-based womenswear designer Roksanda Ilincic quietly staged one of this year’s most powerful fashion presentations. As one of this season’s few physical showcases here in London, the designer invited a handful of the fashion press to a modernist duplex apartment tucked away in Kings Cross. Across a series of floors, models, activists, artists, and writers came together to discuss the social issues which matter to them the most.
Each of the 15 incredible women – including the founder of Congo’s Malaika Foundation, Noëlla Musunka and body-positive activist Honey Ross – share the same key, feminist values Roksanda has built her brand upon. The in-depth discussions are captured for here for the first time, with a film directed by Julia Falkner.
“It was important to me that in order for this project to be authentic and truthful, that the issues addressed throughout the film were given a human voice that spoke from owned experiences of activism, inequality, mental health, violence but also optimism,” explains Roksanda. “I wanted female characters, experiences, strengths and vulnerabilities to take the centre stage and highlight the challenges that we, as a society and individuals, we’re going through.”
Working closely with casting director Madeleine Ostlie, Roksanda spent weeks meeting and talking to each of the women who were as excited to take part in the project as she was. “The entire process was very humbling,” says the designer. “Discovering all these wonderful women (and man) and their untold stories only reaffirmed my belief in the values of sisterhood and community.” As we exclusively premiere the film today, we caught up with Roksanda to delve deeper into this seminal step in her design journey thus far.
1. Why was it important for you this season not to do a regular fashion film?
“When we emerged from the months of quiet solitude, I felt as if we had all in some way gone through a period of intense readjustment and learning, where time had purposefully been given back to us so we could utilise it in a more meaningful way than before. Having watched the various social issues being brought to the fore, it was a powerful reminder that we all have our own social responsibility and rather than simply maintaining the status quo, I wanted to make a point by generating awareness around these important topics. The idea was to spotlight a host of important ethical and social subjects and elevate these issues through a medium that would allow them to breathe and stand-alone, hence the creation of the film.”
2. Out of all the rooms, which scenarios were some of your favourites?
“All of them! The journey was designed so that, rather than take each scene individually, each one would contribute to the overall narrative and lend a different perspective so that by the end, you felt a multitude of emotions, often at times conflicting: anger, sorrow and pain alongside joy, optimism and pleasure.”
3. One room consisted of a passionate discussion surrounding domestic violence, women’s rights and feminism – why was it important for you to have dialogue in this presentation format?
“In the past, when these issues have been addressed, I’ve found they have been easily brushed aside or referenced and then forgotten. However, by having these incredible women physically speak and discuss ideas from their own learned experiences with other women, they embodied the subjects themselves creating a collective and supportive energy that gave weight to these issues in their own right.”
4. Another room was dedicated as a place for soul searching and imagination, was this inspired by your own time spent in isolation?
“Absolutely but it was also a comment on the shared experience – even though we all experienced difficult times throughout isolation, I wanted to capture the sense of underlying positivity that pervaded throughout this period. The coming together of society despite our darkest moments and the common need for hope and dreams for a better future.”
5. How was it creating a collection during lockdown?
“Unusual. Initially, the focus was on coordinating all the different design elements and how we were going to realistically deliver the collection on time. However, the longer lockdown continued it became more about the emotional aspect of the collection and what it represented on a symbolic level. Not only did it start to take on characteristics to suit the needs of our new experience, such as functionality and utility, but wider aspects of sustainability and circular fashion became central to its overall meaning and purpose.”
6. There’s a fluidity to the collection, perfect for days indoors – what did your lockdown uniform look like?
“Throughout lockdown, I made a point to get up and get dressed according to my mood. Sometimes it would be as if I was going to the studio, and other times I opted for my Roksanda x Lululemon collection or Roksanda jersey pieces.”
7. What’s your personal favourite pieces from the collection?
“I always find it hard to choose … I like the new addition of sustainable cashmere mix pieces which were added during the lockdown as a means to provide silhouettes and shapes that would give the wearer a sense of comfort and shelter. However, I also love the optimism and energy of the voluminous feathered dresses and skirts in neon orange, which introduces this idea of positivity and looking forward to the days when we can wear these incredible gowns again.”
8. Who are three women who have inspired you?
“My mother, my Central Saint Martin’s MA tutor Louise Wilson and more recently, my daughter, Efimia.”
9. Who do you listen to when you want to feel empowered?
“Kate Bush, Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, Josipa Lisac – all incredible women who have persevered through their own personal challenges to create inspiring and timeless music.”
10. What sort of values do you think the Roksanda woman upholds?
“She is fearless yet vulnerable, modern, independent, strong yet sensitive. She champions her fellow woman, seeks to uphold a sense of community and encourages all forms of individuality. She’s somebody who is inquisitive, open-minded and dresses with a sense of style and fun.”
Designer: Roksanda Ilincic
Director: Julia Falkner
Photographer: Harry Carr
Director of Photography: Asli Umut
Editor: Daniel Adams