The Ready To Fish by Ilja FW15 collection called Compendium and presented at the Mercedes Benz New York fashion Week at Lincoln Center, oozed artful ease, confidence and comfort. Talented Dutch designer Ilja Visser gave us concisely the basic parameters of her line and the important message of self-expression she wants to popularize through fashion.
Unrelated to any specific theme or inspiration, she started with a blank canvas to present a collection that reads like a sketchbook, and a compendium of the Ready to Fish style. It was important for her to capture the sketch-like quality of the unfinished, leaving room for both her own and the customer’s imagination and interpretation.
As a metaphor for this collation of ideas, she made use of classic marble prints, adorning sketchbooks and archive folders that will prove instantly recognizable to everyone. The collection also emphasizes the idea that many archetypes that inspired us belong to the public domain, and that the use of codes, references verses her own interpretations and developments are at constant play throughout the design process.
Ilja embarked on her career in fashion by attending the School of Arts in Arnhem, the Netherlands. Studying Fashion Design led her to New York for internships at Donna Karan and Maria Cornejo where she developed her tailoring skills. Upon graduation in 2001, Ilja moved to Milan, Italy to further discover the foundation of fashion, textiles, and design.
Launching her first namesake couture line, ILJA, in 2005, Ilja was able to express her own conceptual vision and artistic approach to fashion. With high regard to impeccable craftsmanship in tailoring, fabric manipulation and influence of contemporary innovations, her collections exhibit an organic and sculptural distinction.
Following the success of her couture line, Ilja decided to transform the same nature and attributes of ILJA into more wearable, everyday designs. The prêt-a-porter line, Ready to Fish was introduced in 2006, translating a consistent innovative approach of artistic expressions as ILJA does.
In 2009, the fashion house was established, under the name the ‘Ilja Visser Group’, in the creative center of Amsterdam, in order to bring all levels of the company under one roof. The main office, design and atelier departments, showroom, brand store, and private client room are all located on the Prinsengracht. This is where her vision, giving women all over the world the opportunity to indulge themselves with beautiful fashion and lifestyle products, is applied.
This vision is put into practice through the mission of creating true, optimal product engagement and innovation in all operations. This is all combined with the development of a strong brand portfolio that offers a valuable consumer experience and promotes long-term loyalty. To ensure the values of high standard design and quality of both labels, the finest fabrics are selected, all details of production are meticulously monitored, and a close watch is kept on current trends.
In 2011, Ilja became the first Dutch designer to receive the Cultuur Mode Stipendium award from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds (Prince Bernhard Cultural Foundation) for her innovation and talent within The Netherlands.
In 2013, she made her debut with her couture label ILJA at the Paris Fashion Week and at Dutch Mercedes Benz Fashion Week with Ready to Fish.
Her recent show at the New York Fashion Week was really impressive, attended by notable guests including Stassi Schroeder and Miss New York Jillan Tapper. My own favorites from the collection are the loose monochrome silhouettes that elongate the body, the use of different shades from same color family that spice up the minimalist looks, the smartly draped floor-length evening gowns one could easy wear in the morning with sneakers, the all-white dresses and ensembles, the funky printed sweaters, the reinvented retro headscarves as well as the mish mash of materials and shapes!