Simone Rocha; What’s Going On?

Simone Rocha’s clothes are always romantic, but that never translates into girly frills or sugary-sweet aesthetics. In this collection, it came through as darkness; like some ceremonial Baroque fairytale, an atmosphere which was only heightened by the show’s church setting and live-organ accompaniment.

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Like many young designers – indeed, like many young artists of any discipline – Rocha draws a great deal of inspiration from her own background and life experience. She is the product of a hugely creative family; her Irish mother is also her business-partner, and her Hong-Kong Chinese father is (of course) the designer John Rocha. But that’s not all; like designers Jonathan Saunders and Christopher Kane, Simone acknowledged the influence of Louise Wilson on her work, with the last words of her program notes reading “In Memoriam.”

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“Fidelity and fragility, nude mesh tipped with fluff,” the show notes also described, as well as the “mad flowers, red flowers.” These words poetically surmised the sleek mix of pieces, from the transparent veils covered in flowers to the sheer shifts crawling with crochet blooms or bright white brocade. Classic macs are bought to life in soft, pink layers; ghostly and ethereal, more like dresses than durable coats.

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Hemlines were often asymmetrical or even wavy, whilst dresses hung nonchalantly from one shoulder or curved up in a delicate pattern around the neckline. Silhouettes were not overly exaggerated, but were instead elegantly pulled in at the waist or slightly full in the skirt.

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However it is Rocha’s mastery of fabric combinations which make these pieces wearable, even whilst they are incredibly dramatic and romantic. Her touch was light; embroidery on pink mesh, marabou snaking around the edges of those all-black opening pieces. Feathers and fluff burst from shoes and sandals, whilst bright skirts evoked the wings of angels enfolded around sensual, sheer dresses.

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Simone Rocha’s real talent, however, is in creating pieces that young women really want to wear, even as she transforms those designs into the stuff of fairytales. Its dark, its beautiful, and I would happily hang it all in my wardrobe.

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