Ilja catwalk show report | Haute Couture S/S 2016
“Sophisticated comfort. Graphic. Sculptural” is how Ilja Visser describes her latest haute couture collection, feeling it to be her strongest season yet. Having explored geometric architecture, which she refers to as “graphic boxes”, in AW15, the designer and her team wanted to show more softness, settling on the theme of skin.
Visser’s team used flowing organza, crêpe de chine and crêpe de georgette, in blush pink, apricot, white and lilac to represent the delicate, tactile nature of the skin (the lilac was particularly effective, looking like translucent skin over veins). One standout oyster-coloured dress celebrated nudity, with the two halves of the skirt joining at the hip and revealing a constantly moving thigh-high slit, along with tiny spaghetti straps, a deep V neck and an open back.
However, Ilja was not just concerned with skin’s gentleness, but also its strength. The atelier has handwoven their own jacquard, incorporating white and cerulean, which they feel represents skin at its more basic, microscopic, cellular level, and adding a certain hardness to this delicate elegance.
The SS16 show loved playing with contrast between colours, shapes and textures. Ilya reworked this classically graceful feminine look by combining it with oversized, urban shapes, rose-gold geometric detailing and explosions of orange and green. The atelier contradicted the soft pastels with the vibrancy of emerald green and traffic-cone orange, bright and beautiful against the soft colours. One look showed a beautifully simple, striking green bandeau, which contrasted against the models bare skin and the blush silk skirt, full of trembling ruffles and cascading layers, that trailed behind it.
This striking rapport continued into the shoes, which were white leather with a heavy green plastic platform heel, once more showing the soft purity of skin contrasted with eye-catching emerald. The model’s hair was either cropped short and slicked down, a harsh wet-look pixie cut, or a variation of a French plait Mohawk, another subtle way to modernise the collection’s aesthetic.
Ilja’s new couture collection is fluid and silky, but also contemporary and energetic: a fascinating “new pretty”.