I always praise Simone Rocha for being an independent fashion designer, who doesn’t fall into the trend of having pre-collections. And that’s truly rare in today’s industry. Two collections a year gives Rocha the time and space for the creative process, which is so in demand at the moment – very few can deliver it under this unbearable pressure. But 2016 wasn’t only a highlight for Rocha in her professional life, but also in her private life. Being a new mom and working in fashion simultaenously is a big achievement. Surprisinly, this meant creativity boost for autumn-winter 2016, letting Rocha look deeper into the meaning of “baby-boom”. “I started to do this wrapping and swaddling with stoles. There’s something a bit surgical and matronly going on—sick-y nudes, the lilac of the uniforms that nurses used to wear. Medical aprons; knitting as women do when there’s a baby coming; schlumpy, relaxed shapes—and a little bit of trauma!” Yep, this doesn’t sound like your average post-pregnancy reflection.
Indeed, the autumn-winter 2016 collection had a lot to do with nurse uniforms, being psychedelically revamped with a various shades of pink. The fur stoles and fluffy Mary-Jane flats gave the feeling of babyish innocence, but that can’t be said of the darker dresses and coats – Rocha’s “matrons” with strict black bows lurk from the Victorian history of hospitals that up to now haunt Irish tales and stories. The woman behind AW16’s plot is both, sweet and sour – she might be a Lolita, Mary Poppins or Jane Eyre one day – and she is blooming just as the designer herself.
Staying true to her romantic spirit, Simone Rocha staged her spring-summer 2017 show in Southwark Cathedral, where the models walked down the gothic aisle. The venue matched the charming sublimity of Rocha’s latest line of delicate textures and girlie silhouettes, and it smoothly worked with the collection’s British accents and the designer’s long-term inspirations. Voluminous poplin-cotton shirts were layered with Prince of Wales checks; a classic trench-coat has never looked like a Louise Bourgeois sculpture before. While working on the collection, the designer took a glance at baptismal gowns and communion dresses, reworking them in authentic broderie anglaise lace. But don’t expect to see a traditional wedding dress here. Simone Rocha’s fascination with perversion oozes in those not-so-bride-ready gowns. Although we’re talking about sacred and holy, the designer’s pieces are far from innoncent. Sheer organza sheath with elongated sleeves shyly exposed nipples, while a tulle skirt with embroidered flowers showed some leg… accidentally. Note the models’ patent wellies and synthetic-white, rubber gloves. Red lips and wet hair. Rocha’s Catholic girls coming from good village families are naughty. In a very elusive, gentle way.
What will 2017 mean for Rocha?