But they needn’t have worried. Roberta graduated from a foundation degree at Saint Martins, before moving on to Westminster, with internships at Mary Katrantzou and Alexander McQueen under her belt. A stint at Balmain then marked a turning point for the previously minimalist designer. “Someone who I used to work with at McQueen had told Balmain about me, so they asked me to come for an interview. But I was back home in Estonia for the summer, so I had to do a Skype interview sitting in my parents’ bedroom in my pyjamas!” she remembers. “After a few days they began the process of relocating me, so I put my studies on hold for a year and a half, and moved to Paris.”
At Balmain, Roberta discovered a newfound love for decoration, intricate embroidery and a maximalist aesthetic, and credits working with the team in Paris for helping her true style to emerge. “Balmain taught me to experiment,” she says. “When designers were questioning a piece, Olivier [Rousteing] might say, ‘Let’s just add more gold, more rhinestones,’ which just made pieces really rich and technical, and drew the eye to that, as opposed to whether something was in good or bad taste. That was one of the main things that I took with me. What was so bold and beautiful about it was being aware of good and bad taste, questioning it and then constantly pushing the boundaries.
“A lot of brands stick to their comfort zone and stop developing. But as a designer you need to be bright and new and, most importantly, different. You have to make people think. That’s what I try to follow now while also being extremely self-critical, to keep pushing myself forward.”