Smilja, the Adlib princess

If today the Adlib name encapsulates the looks, lifestyle and idiosyncrasies of Ibiza, it is because Smilja Mihailovitch first traced a though-line between the three. It matters little that she wasn’t actually born on Ibiza, Smilja was nevertheless held up as the Pityuses’ unofficial princess. She is regarded, alongside a handful of other figures from the day, as being the first to popularise local lifestyle and fashion trends. Together they coined the term ‘Moda Adlib’ (“Adlib fashion,”) a concept that still feels fresh 45 years on. It is also the main draw for flocks of visitors and the raison d’être for a fashion show allied modelled on “wear what you want, but do it with style”.

Smilja Mihailovitch is held to have been a one-time intimate of Yugoslav royalty. She was born and lived in the former kingdom until it fell to the Nazis in 1945. Like untold numbers of individuals across Europe, Smilja was forced to emigrate to escape death at the hands of Hitler. It was then that the “princess” found herself on a journey across Europe, stopping in Paris and London and finally settling in Spain in the nineteen-sixties. Smilja kept close company with members of the élite of the day, such as politician Miguel García Sáez (the husband of Princess Maria Immaculata of Bourbon-Two Sicilies), Carmen Figueroa and Pilar Franco, contacts which would later play a formative role in Adlib’s success.

When Smilja Mihailovitch arrived on Ibiza in roughly 1966, the island was gripped by a tourist boom and a hippie invasion. It was then the “princess” first came into contact with the lifestyle, cuisine and couture of Ibiza. The impact on Smilja was so great that she would ultimately become their staunchest advocate. It was, in short, traditional peasant linen adapted by hippies to fit their idiosyncratic modes of living. Smilja saw the opportunity to leverage to new style as economic and tourist capital.

With “wear what you want, but do it with style,” Smilja Mihailovitch etched into Adlib fashion the unique feel of the islands, the understanding and humanity shared by peasant farmers and freshly-arrived tourists and—best of all—islanders’ peculiar remixing of their guests’ fashions.

Smilja felt that something so evident on the streets deserved contemplation. She petitioned the agency in charge of such matters, Spain’s ministry of information and tourism, for permits to host the first Adlib Fashion Week. No surprise, then, that Smilja is seen as a standard bearer for Adlib fashion. That the style stayed true to its roots whilst still adapting to the moment is testament to Smilja’s determined character.

Towards the end of her life, besides steering Pasarela Adlib, Smilja rubbed elbows with Spanish socialites on the mainland and became a frequent object of attention in the tabloids. For years, she penned a column in Diario de Ibiza as ‘Princesa Smilja,’ the moniker the world remembers her by.

Ibiza style’s creator and driving force, Smilja Mihailovitch passed away on November 2, 1994 at her home on Ibiza,  where for twenty-plus years she stewarded Adlib fashion and the island’s promotion as a tourist destination.

One of Smilja’s peers still labouring to keep the pasarela going is Luis Ferrer, who maintains he has finally understood many things about Smilja “that were surely key to this event’s success in the long term”.