Roksanda Ilincic, 38, studied architecture and applied arts in her native Belgrade before coming to London to complete a womenswear MA at Central Saint Martins in 2002. The following year she launched her eponymous label and is now considered one of London’s most desirable designers, dressing everyone from rock to royalty in her boldly coloured, distinctly feminine designs.
Inspired by the birth of her daughter Mia (now three), last year she launched Blossom, a collection of scaled-down pieces for little girls. This is her third season. Ilincic lives in London with her daughter and husband, Phil Bueno del Mesquita, the founder of the trainer brand Acupuncture.
I had a very happy childhood in Serbia, and that happiness and love of play has continued into my adult life. As a child I would customise my dolls. I never thought their dresses were good enough, so I’d strip them and make them things from ribbons or whatever was around, but they never looked particularly good. I only remember two dolls that I really loved as they were. For the rest of them I had higher expectations. Looking back, I realise that was the first sign of me trying to say something different with clothing.
Fairy tales and folklore
In Serbia we have beautiful epic songs, which are a mixture of fantasy and reality. My name comes from one of them – it is a princess in a story called Zenidba Dusanova (The Wedding of Dusan).
My mother collected Yves Saint Laurent. I loved seeing her in those pieces, and seeing them later hanging in the cupboard, all of those beautiful, clashing colours. I have always loved bright colours: when you come from a country that has so much sun and so much produce – fruits, vegetables, flowers – you cannot stay resistant to its beauty. I see colour as something very happy, very positive and very exciting. I find artists like Ellsworth Kelly, who use the juxtaposition of colour, very inspiring; for me the most exciting is Josef Albers. I create inspiration boards before the start of each season, with photographs of everything – art, design, clothing from different periods. I like the simplicity and elegance of this Man Ray image of the French surrealist Nusch Eluard.
I had planned to do childrenswear as part of growing the business, but becoming a mother definitely accelerated that. I know what I would like to dress my daughter in, and the similarities between my adult and children’s lines are conscious; the connection between mother and daughter is very precious and something to be celebrated. There is so much ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ in the studio when we are sampling the collections, but when you see those tiny sizes you just can’t help it.
This is one of my favourite pictures of Mia. It was taken for i-D magazine before I started Blossom. I choose her outfits and dress her every day, although she is starting to get a mind of her own and is in a pink phase at the moment. I think spoiling children when they are very young is fine, as they are not aware you are doing it. She is just three so I need to slow down on the shoes and the dresses but it is my passion and something that we share.
BY DAISY BRIDGEWATER