Simone Rocha‘s autumn-winter 2021 collection is brilliant – and it took us to the darker side of the designer’s off-kilter, romantic universe. Amidst the frenzy of the upcoming H&M collaboration (one of the best in years coming from the high street giant), the designer appears to have doubled down on the codes upon which she established her brand, with the themes that defined her early collections re-explored and elevated anew. Her debut collection, inspired by teenage rebellion and tucking tracksuits under her school uniform to go and smoke cigarettes in the alley near her house, set a blueprint for her world which has been expressly reasserted this season. Over a decade later and biker jackets and leathers appeared for the first time on her runway, in a manner that beautifully reflected the subversive femininity so key to her work; a distended, oversized knit worn with heavy brogues and satchel directly evocative of times spent in alleys. “I really wanted this collection to have a lot of clarity, a lot of identity,” she told Vogue. “To look at the codes which felt very me.” She continued: “I was working my femininity into a harder, more protective shell; working with fragile fabric which would explode out of it.” So, from beneath cropped leathers bloomed layers of tulle; pretty dresses harnessed to the body; heavy patent bovver boots laced with pearls. Some exceptionally fabricated 3D satin roses managed to maintain a somewhat imposing presence and, rendered in a waxed cotton khaki jacket, appeared almost utilitarian. “The petal of the roses and the spike of the thorn,” is how she described it – a sentiment which might sound trite were it not so expertly executed. “We all feel very kind of internal at the moment; I wanted to look after that fragility, but give it a harder shell. I like how, at the beginning of the collection things appear tight and closed, but throughout the collection, the woman blooms open until the leathers are just strapped on. The shell breaks down, but the tulle keeps its strength.” There’s melancholy, yet there’s plenty of hope – a cocktail of feelings we all might going through now, and Rocha captured that just perfectly with her pack of goddesses and fairies. It’s no revelation that Simone Rocha’s accessories are a standout. But this season they make you drool: porcelain cameos turned into earrings; crumpled leather rose bags; a new floral iteration of her classic chandelier earrings; thick-soled shoes with scalloped platforms. Love, love, love!
“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.