Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Simone Rocha has really made a name for herself. Cynics may nod and make reference to her wildly successful Hong Kong-born fashion designer father, John Rocha, but credit must be given where credit is due. The 26 year-old designer indeed had a head-start, having learned knitting and sewing from a young age whilst helping her father prepare for his shows, and sharing his production base in Italy, but she has cemented a unique, minimal aesthetic, using innovative structural techniques, after only two years on the scene. Rocha graduated from her MA at Central Saint Martins in 2010 and had her first solo show at London Fashion Week in September 2011.
The young designer’s garments have a fascinating appeal – they possess a charm that speaks of old Hollywood glamour and yet they are nothing if not completely contemporary; even ahead of their time. Rocha combines her deep comprehension of fabrication techniques with hand-knitting, crocheting, and interesting combinations of fabrics like PVC, silk, organza, and Perspex, creating garments that blow the minds of onlookers every time. Her spring/summer 2014 collection was no different.
The show notes for the collection were written in poetic verse so it was clear, even before the lights went down, that this was going to be something special. Speaking of “mourning, communion, isolation, union” the sentiment behind the collection appears to reference the Catholicism of Rocha’s youth spent in Dublin, and of a deep melancholy that belies the beauty of the show. The clothes were described as “hard, wet, dark, ugly, masculine, tailored, embellished and pearled,” and yet there was nothing ugly or dark about the collection. It was one of the most striking and romantic shows of London Fashion Week. The models walked to the dulcet tones of Ian Curtis and Joy Division’s heart-wrenching “Atmosphere,” no doubt selected by Rocha’s brother, Max, who curates all the music to her shows.
There was a strong monochromatic element to the collection this season, with infusions of nudes and moss greens. Fabrics were stiff and structured: puffball skirts, clear PVC ensembles with crocheted, white floral embroidery over the top, soft-shouldered opera coats, loose-fitting leather coats, and matted silk dresses. There was shine to most of the fabrics: satins, golds, and pearls worn as chokers or as embellishment around the tops of calf-length sheer socks. The romance and femininity came with risqué touches, wide skirts had slashes at the side (a cheeky flash of thigh) and a stiff mesh sleeveless top was worn over bare breasts.
The final looks brought a poignant, almost Mrs. Haversham touch to the collection – enormous nude tulle veils wrapped and draped over model’s heads and tied in big knots at their waists. Jilted brides. Accessories were boxy leather handbags and Rocha’s signature chunky Perspex-heeled shoes, “the floating Perspex brogue” as Rocha calls it.
Rocha’s collection may have presented a romantic, heavily feminine aesthetic, but these were no vulnerable waifs, they were doyennes of womanhood. There was a strength and an assertion in each piece and it can be summed up by the hairstyles – pulled tight atop the heads to form Mohicans like Roman Galea helmets. They were women ready for battle. It was a poetic celebration of womanhood, emotional in its beauty, and the collection will no doubt be a roaring success.