Belgrade-born designer Roksanda Ilincic is not yet a household name here in the States, but she is becoming just that in Europe, thanks to the embellished ladylike collection that bears her hard to pronounce and harder to forget moniker. (For the record, it's said "Rock-SAN-da Ill-IN-chick.")
Ilincic founded her eponymous label in 2003 after studying at Central Saint Martins (prior to which she studied architecture and applied arts in her native Serbia). She quickly gained a following among celebs such as Cate Blanchett, Gwyneth Paltrow, Margherita Missoni, Tilda Swinton, Kate Hudson and Thandie Newton for her colorful, elegantly feminine demi-couture creations and, in 2006, was nominated for a Swarovski Fashion Enterprise award and named New Designer of the Year by the British Fashion Council.
The 34-year-old designer debuted her first capsule collection for UK retailer Whistles in 2009 (the same year Mattel released her collection of 50 limited edition Barbie dolls at Colette and Dover Street Market), launched a swimwear range in 2010, presented her latest Resort collection in New York this past spring, and saw her profile get an immeasurable boost last month when Kate Middleton (or Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge for you protocol sticklers) wore a Roksanda Ilincic dress when disembarking from the plane during the royal newlyweds' recent visit to Los Angeles. First ladies Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron are also fans.
So when she first know she wanted to be a fashion designer? "When I started making dresses for my dolls as a child," replied Ilincic, whose fall 2011 collection was inspired by birds. And as for why fashion versus another form of creative expression: "I don't t have a rational answer to this question," she said. "It is more something I followed intuitively."
The London-based beauty—and mother of daughter Efimia, who turns one this month—recently took a few minutes on the eve of her New York debut to talk to The Fashion Informer's Lauren David Peden about a few of her favorite (and not so favorite) things.
What's your favorite getaway spot?
Ocean or mountains.
How often do you get back to Belgrade, and how has it changed since you lived there?
I go back twice a year. It has changed a lot but the amazing, uplifting spirit and positive energy of the city is still the same.
What's your favorite street in the world?
The streets in Malá Strana in Prague.
What's the biggest difference between designing swimwear and ready-to-wear?
With swimwear you are more confined with regards to the shape and materials. Having those limits is a wonderful challenge for design, though. I hope that with both collections I design pieces that make women feel confident and beautiful.
What part of your job do you like the best? Least?
Most: Creating collections and collaborating with interesting people. Least: Having to meet the tight deadlines and not getting enough sleep.