's pre-spring collection is emblematic of the renewed effort London designers are putting into upping their appeal. Until this season, pre-
were pretty much a foreign language to British designers, but now they're figuring out what it all means and how to finesse their clothes in useful ways without dulling things down. For Ilincic, who belongs to the international breed of cocktail and evening designers who might find themselves in a bit of a corner now that the party boom is over, that means "trying to reach a wider audience with clothes you can use for more than one thing, changing the fabrics so they could be worn for day or evening, and adding pants, liquid jersey T-shirts, and jackets with the big shoulders I can't help doing."
Apart from considering how women might use, say, her long, lavender charmeuse dress—"it would look good on holiday with flat sandals or bare feet, or with done hair and heels for a Christmas party," she said—Ilincic has devoted the last year to improving the quality of her pieces. The new lightness and lingerie-fine finishes on her dresses, along with the weightless structure of her tailoring, represent a long stride forward. Her signature raw edges are resolved now with fine bindings of black lace—a subtle move, perhaps, but a smart one. In straitened times, the charm of amateurism, she's realized, has had its day.