Roksanda Ilincic talks life as a designer, and going to China with NET-A-PORTER & British Fashion Council

April 9, 2019

Last week, YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP had the pleasure of hosting Afternoon Tea at our Shanghai office, with the British Fashion Council, Roksanda Ilincic and Peter Pilotto, as part of Shanghai Fashion Week. Welcomed by YNAP General Manager of China, Claire Chung, guests gathered to celebrate China’s role in the global fashion industry and future opportunities for British brands in this flourishing market. This marked Roksana and Peter Pilotto’s first ever visit to China, an important first step in our brand partners’ development in these new waters.

After the event, we sat down with Roksanda, to learn about her journey to date as an entrepreneur, independent designer and mother.  

What would you say is the most exciting thing about your job?

Definitely it is the design process itself and being able to express your vision, point of difference  and view on culture through design and art. Also, it is all the incredible people I get to meet along the way.

The cross over between art and fashion means that often many doors to different creative worlds are opened and I especially love when these meetings lead to collaborations. We have worked on some amazing projects with artists, architects and ceramicists over the years and am always so inspired in finding out about their processes and craft, working together to create something new.

Tell us a bit about how you became a designer? Were you influenced by anyone you admire? Any interesting stories you’d like to share?

I studied architecture and applied arts back home in Belgrade, but I was always interested to fashion. I was definitely influenced from a young age by my mum and her incredible collection of clothes, colour is also a big thing back home, so clearly that had an effect on me! It was at Central Saint Martins in London working under the late Louise Wilson that I was able to channel that and find my identity as a designer.

What’s your inspiration for the new collection, and how do you obtain new ideas and inspirations?

For Spring Summer I wanted to explore the work of architects and artists who expanded their craftsmanship into complimentary pursuits and disciplines; tapestry, murals and ceramics. Commissions by Le Corbusier in particular inspired some of the architectural handwork and motifs that appear throughout the collection.

I can find inspiration anywhere, from the library, books and archives, down to colour combinations that catch my eye day to day.

What does your normal day look like? Give us a peek into your daily routine and usual work day.

I always start by dropping my daughter at school, my time with her in the morning is so precious. Then I head back to East London, to my studio for what is usually a back to back day of fittings, meetings with my team and whatever else the day has to throw at me!

Depending on if I have an event in the evening I will either head home to get changed, or change at my studio and head to town. Bedtime is usually around midnight after I’ve caught up on all my emails, and had a hot water with lemon to send me to sleep ready for the next day!

Name a few things that you can’t live without? 

My husband Philip and my daughter Efimia, my incredible team, chamomile tea, and my iPhone!

Name 3 items you cannot live without in your wardrobe?

Culottes, a great dress and a coat that works for day and night. A red lipstick in one of my bags is always essential too in case I am in a rush and don’t have time to change!

How do you balance work and personal life?

It’s certainly tough, especially now fashion is so fast and the demands on my time to design four collections a year are so tight. When I had my daughter, I had to become much stricter with my time, I have to give myself certain boundaries and stick to them, as my priority will always be her! As she is growing older she loves spending time at the studio, I love seeing her curiosity towards what I do.

What was your impression on your first visit of China? What was your favourite takeaway or first memory?

China is such an overload for the senses in the most magical way, and the country, especially in the bigger cities has such an appetite for creativity, which as a designer is incredibly inspiring. The culture, the food, the art scene, the markets and a reflexology massage are things that I can never resist when I am here.

What does #IncredibleWoman mean to you?

An incredible woman to me is someone who is fearless, but with a quiet confidence. She is not afraid to embrace all sides of herself, to be powerful but also vulnerable. That balance, for me, is so important.