The world in which we live seems to become a more precarious place by the day — if not for the struggles we face as creatives trying to get by in the monstrous all-consuming system that is late capitalism, then for the increasing state of violence, hatred and separation we find in our societies. But, fighting against the great divide, is designer Roni Ilan, who has pushed for closeness and connection through her work since she left the BA Fashion at Central Saint Martins in 2013, and has carved out a niche by discarding the idea of 30-look seasons, or needing to do a show bi-annually. For her SS17 collection, Roni revisited and reworked a concept from an earlier collection, resulting in the touching and beautiful video below.
“A kiss seemed like the best way to show a connection, and pass on this feeling of intimacy.”
In your press release it says that the SS17 collection focuses on the concept of walls as something that seems to protects us, but similarly also prevents us from making a connection. How exactly have you translated this concept into your work?
I looked at the concept of walls from a few different perspectives. In the physical sense, looking at images of people near large structures, images of walls built as borders within countries. In the conceptual sense, exploring the concept of emotional walls and how to bring them down.
The main technique creating the clothes was to use pleats to create a few layers on certain areas, reinforcing the fabric. While in the same surface I was dissolving those pleats; creating a vast clean surface, to create this collapsible garment, that looks strong and stiff in parts and dissolves into more abstract shapes in other parts.
You have created a beautiful video of two men kissing while wearing a black iteration of the interconnected jacket from you previous collection. How does this relate back to your concept of walls and its effects on your methods of making connections?
The video was made as a research piece for the current collection. This was part of the concept of taking down a wall. I kept looking at an image from AW15 and thought that, although the models’ jackets are connected, they seem quite far apart, facing the camera, away from each other. I wondered: how can I break down that wall between them, and make them connect? A kiss seemed like the best way to show a connection, and pass on this feeling of intimacy.
“More connecting and less separating is always a good idea in any society and everywhere.”
How has motherhood changed your ideas about relationships and connection?
Motherhood made me see more how we are all part of the same thing, all connected to one another.
It made me think of connecting and separating in the physical and emotional sense, and made me want to go deeper into this concept.
How does the video reflect any personal or political sentiment about our current society?
I think more connecting and less separating is always a good idea in any society and everywhere.
Why did you choose to use painted canvas for your collection and how did you come up with the paint technique that creates such a complex colour?
I first chose to use painter’s canvas for its hard texture. I wanted the clothes to keep their structure and for the material to accentuate their shape. Then after making the clothes, we decided to paint them. I wanted the colour to be dark and deep. If you use straight black, it looks quite flat. And so we mixed three primary colours to achieve this layered tone of greyish black.
“How can I break down that wall between them, and make them connect?”
What are three methods of creating that fascinate you the most?
I usually start off drawing, or making some kind of art form as research for the collection. Then I spend most of my time pattern-cutting and toiling. This takes most of my time and is the part I enjoy the most.
Who do you look up to these days?
I look up to anyone who really follows their heart and are true to what they want to say. Marta Jakubowski, Samuel Gui Yang, Craig Green, are all people I appreciate for their hard work and originality.
Interview by Lydia Chan
All images courtesy of Roni Ilan