Monday, July 7, 2014


Glasses of chilled, bubbly water welcomed fashion lovers in the front courtyard of an ambassadorial residence in Paris Monday, as Dutch designer Ilya got ready to present her couture show.

When spectators entered a stunning hall of parquet floors and taspestry-covered walls, they were greeted by long-stemmed white roses on each seat, giving everyone a “voorgerecht” - a little taste of what was to come.

Coolness and class were thus the promised flavours, and the show followed through on those first hints.

Ilya’s Fall-Winter 2014-2015 couture collection relied on a refined black-and-white color scheme, with salient splashes of corals and blues. Simple cuts and understated shades contrasted with intricate sculptural and geometric shapes.

Although most of the pieces highlighted femininity, suit-type ensembles did not look out of place, as they integrated some fashionable twists such as plunging v-necks and transparent fabric.

Outfits made from luminous material also bedazzled the eye, despite the overall discreet element of the show.  This was an altogether very wearable couture collection, evocative of Ilya’s journey to her current position as a designer who eschews needless flamboyance.

Born Ilja Visser, she started her career in fashion design at ArtEZ School of arts in Arnhem, the Netherlands. She went on to intern with Donna Karan (founder of DKNY), and Maria Cornejo, whose clientele includes American first-lady Michelle Obama and Scottish actress Tilda Swinton, queen of the ice-cool look.

Ilya founded her own company in 2005 and was the first designer to receive the prestigious cultuur mode stipendium award from the Prince Bernhard Cultural Foundation in 2011. 

The current collection suggests she might be in for several more prizes. - J.M. De  Clercq