You Reap What You Sow. Simone Rocha AW23

For autumn-winter 2023, Simone Rocha conjured a moody, romantic and very symbolic collection. Lughnasadh is the Irish harvest festival that goes back to pagan times, and tangentially about which Brian Friel wrote a great play. Before Christianity’s arrival and ever since, but differently, it has acted as a counterpoint to Beltane: a moment to offer thanks for summer’s bounty, and a moment for communities to commingle. Simone Rocha used Lughnasadh as a vehicle for a forward expansion of her design language. “I started looking into the rituals of relationships, because I wanted to continue to show women and men together: how they correspond,” said Rocha before the show. The designer’s coming together for harvest, to reap what had earlier been sown, started with a three part sunrise of all-gold womenswear looks in cloque whose surface was puckered like a heap of matured wheat-seed. These were in typically bounteous silhouettes, full in arm and skirt. Spaced around them were darker looks including one menswear ensemble consistent with a classically cut black car coat over a nappa pant. Perry Ogden wore a fine black double breasted top coat in Linton tweed cut with lurex. As the looks unfolded and the tempo of the Celtic soundtrack gathered melodic urgency, the collection was getting better and better. The red ribbons that fell from the hair, garments, and sometimes eyes of certain models were meant to represent blood traditionally daubed on children’s faces to ward off ill spirits and bad luck. The raffia stuffed into and supporting a series of intricately felt-embroidered, mostly womenswear lace gowns – rural crinolines! – spoke of hay bales productively disordered. These carried a richly contradictory tension between the ostensible primness of silhouette and the tumbled suggestion of their fabrication. Women’s slip dresses and underpinnings, and a taut bungee tank top for men served to emphasize the bodies within. Two final all-raffia dresses were totemic. There were some other wonderfully subtle technical details, crossed nylon webbing on jacket arms and that bungee tank, that the designer happily conceded had entered her lexicon thanks to her time working with Moncler: “It made me much more appreciative of the technicality of garments.” Standing stone graphics and new plays on Rocha’s logo by a group of friend creatives added extra texture to a collection that was already aflame with it. One word: brilliant.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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