If there was a prize for the best presentation of London Fashion Week then Roksanda Ilincic would probably win. Friday in February is her three-minute film, starring Vanessa Redgrave, her daughter Joely Richardson, and granddaughter Daisy Bevan. Set to a soundtrack of birdsong and Redgrave reciting Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73 (enough to soothe any editor suffering with screen time fatigue) the film was made at Richardson’s beautiful country home in Surrey where the three generations were spending lockdown.
And how do you get an Academy Award winning actress and her family to star in a fashion film in the middle of a pandemic? “It happened very organically,” laughs Ilincic. “In January, when I realized that we couldn’t stage a presentation or hold appointments, I was thinking about what we could do and Joely happened to get in touch,” she says, adding that their friendship goes back to 2013, when she fitted her for a dress; in fact, the actor has never missed a Roksanda show. “Joely mentioned that Vanessa and Daisy were with her at her home and what a magical time they were having spending these weeks together; that’s how the idea came about—creating something with them, capturing those wonderful moments. It’s like a keepsake, something they can watch in years to come.” She describes the film as being half a documentary about how they spent their days—“playing cards, writing, walking their two wonderful dogs…”—and half about showcasing her creations.
One would almost have no idea of the logistical nightmares behind it: no cameraman, no sound engineer, they filmed it between them on three iPhones in one day; a Friday in February. “One of the worst times to film,” says Ilincic. “The days are so short, so we had to start early to catch the morning light, but the whole thing was a labour of love, to be there and to work with someone like Vanessa; like Joely; it was almost surreal. I had to pinch myself.” It’s such a lovely thing to watch, in the way it enchants, that you almost forget about observing the collection—in a good way.
Ilincic says she wanted to look at the relevance of clothes and how they can bring joy, stir positivity or a dream, “I was thinking about how to express that,” she adds. She looked back to her childhood and the memories that made her happiest; the essence of her grandparents is there in painterly prints of objects found on her grandmother’s kitchen table: a lit candle, fruit, flowers—all of it comes to life across scarf print dresses. Her grandfather’s shirting and its pin tucks are manifested in a series of gowns that feel touched by the hand.
Her optimistic, joy-inducing hues instantly lift the soul, cleverly color blocked in oversize trouser suits or elsewhere in pure saturation, as on a balloon-sleeved neon orange jumpsuit. “This color is insane, it almost doesn’t translate digitally, but in real life it’s ‘wow’” she says. The clothes pop, but versatility is also important: a voluminous-backed pale blue silk gown is shorter at the front, intended to be worn with or without trousers, as Ilincic puts it: “on a red carpet or a Zoom call. These are clothes that suit this middle space that we’re living at the moment.” Middle space or not, she certainly makes it look appealing.