Power Dress­ing

Rok­sanda Ilin­cic has dressed the likes of Me­la­nia Trump, Sa­man­tha Cameron and Michelle Obama; we caught up with the de­signer in Dubai

Khaleej Times - City Times - - FRONT PAGE - SUJATA ASSOMULL sujata@khalee­j­times.com

VI­BRANT COLOUR, SHAPES that work on real women, a play on sleeves, a mod­est ap­proach to fash­ion that has a feel of haute cou­ture - that is how you could de­scribe the style of Ser­bian, Lon­don liv­ing de­signer Rok­sanda Ilin­cic. And it is a for­mula that has made her the fash­ion de­signer of choice for many a first lady be it Sa­man­tha Cameron, Me­la­nia Trump or Michelle Obama. This de­signer launched her la­bel in 2003 hav­ing grad­u­ated from Lon­don’s Cen­tral St Martins and to­day she is one of the go-to-de­sign­ers for women of sub­stance (Cate Blanchett and Cather­ine, Duchess of Cam­bridge are other power women who wear Rok­sanda).

Fash­ion pun­dits of­ten call her one of the pioneers of the “new power look”, a term for a more re­fined and re­laxed take on 80’s power dress­ing that cel­e­brates woman in the work­place. Though this is not a la­bel the fash­ion de­signer her­self likes to wear. “I re­ally don’t see my­self as a cham­pion of power dress­ing,” the de­signer ex­plained to City Times when we caught up with her last Wed­nes­day at the Mall of the Emi­rates. And the term power dress­ing is not one she re­lates to. She adds, “I feel women to­day should wear what they like. In the 1980s and 1990s women had to con­form in the work­place. It was a man’s world and women did not have the free­dom to dress the way they wanted to.”

For Rok­sanda fem­i­nin­ity is el­e­gant yet has an el­e­ment of fun. And that is prob­a­bly what has made her a firm favourite with women in author­ity. She still re­mem­bers the first time that Michelle Obama wore her

The woman who buys my la­bels is the ev­ery­day woman, she is the celebrity that makes my fash­ion house.” Rok­sanda Ilin­cic

la­bel when she met Chi­nese pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao in 2011 in a navy blue em­bel­lished dress with a match­ing coat. “It was a mo­ment I will not for­get. I first saw it on the tele­vi­sion.” Her la­bel is now a part of ev­ery ma­jor fash­ion store, avail­able glob­ally, and in Dubai’s Mall of the Emi­rates, you will find her at both Etoile and Bou­tique 1.

While both Obama and Cameron may have been among the first women to help put Rok­sanda on the map, this re­gion has also played a very im­por­tant role in mak­ing her fash­ion house fa­mous. “This re­gion was an im­por­tant sup­porter of my la­bel from the be­gin­ning,” she says. Rok­sanda puts this down to the fact that women from the Mid­dle East have a love of colour, craft, and lux­ury - some­thing that is at the core of her fash­ion la­bel. Which is why she has been to the city sev­eral times, and this time Rok­sanda is head­lin­ing the Mall of the Emi­rates’ an­nual five-day fash­ion event ‘World of Fash­ion’ that con­cludes to­day.

She says her love of colour and at­ten­tion to de­tails such as the sleeve comes from Ser­bia and she cred­its Lon­don, her adopted home, for giv­ing her con­fi­dence to take a new di­rec­tion in fash­ion. “I think when I started, there was a feel­ing that we need a change in fash­ion, and mod­est was the di­rec­tion to go in.” And while many in­dus­try crit­ics be­lieve fash­ion’s new love of mod­est dress­ing has to do with com­merce and the fact

that the Mid­dle East is seen as hav­ing deep pock­ets, Rok­sanda says it is cre­ativ­ity which led to this macro trend. “The woman who buys my la­bel is the ev­ery­day woman, she is the celebrity that makes my fash­ion house. And she is a woman with global style.”

The Rok­sanda Ilin­cic la­bel is truly global not just be­cause of her own roots, and her in­ter­na­tional ap­peal but also be­cause this Ser­bian-Lon­don la­bel has an In­dian in­vestor Eiesha Bharti Pas­richa (daugh­ter of In­dian in­dus­tri­al­ist Su­nil Mit­tal); she has a stake in the com­pany and it was her fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment that helped Rok­sanda opened her first flag­ship store in Lon­don. “Times have changed, and to­day you no longer have to be from one of the big fash­ion cities. It is all about di­ver­sity,” says the de­signer.

Rok­sanda Ilin­cic spent last Wed­nes­day at House of Bazaar, a spe­cial pop-up cu­rated by Harper’s Bazaar Ara­bia for Mall of Emi­rates World of Fash­ion event

Sa­man­tha Cameron at­tends the Rok­sanda Ilin­cic show dur­ing Lon­don Fash­ion Week in 2015

Rok­sanda is one of Kate Mid­dle­ton’s pre­ferred de­sign­ers

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