Looking Back At Simone Rocha AW20

As the cropped and largely digital “fashion month” is about to start, I’m looking back at some of my favourite collections from autumn-winter 2020 season, and Simone Rocha‘s delightful line-up is definitely in my top of the top rank. There was something beautifully sacred and mystical about Rocha’s collection. Ribbons and ties, fisherman’s nets, white lace and baptism-like cotton cloths, pearl details from head to toes… and of course the Aran knits. “Procession, baptism; birth, life, and loss,” began the designer. “It’s about the Aran Islands, the life there, and J.M. Synge’s play about it, ‘Riders to the Sea’.” The cream wool Aran pattern is the centerpiece of Rocha’s collection – the Irish stitch is world-famous, even though if originates from a tiny sprinkle of islands off Connemara on the country’s west coast. “It’s the color of the unbleached wool from the sheep there,” Rocha explained. An what about the slightly nautical feeling? In the past, people on the remote islands lived only on sheep and the proceeds of battling with the sea – Synge’s drama is about the tragedy and the resilience of a woman who has lost her husband and sons to drowning. Rocha is never afraid of the less optymistic themes for her shows. But somehow, they never appear heavy or dull. After the virgin-white looks, something darker began to flow in. Women in mourning, church rituals, priests, legends, and the Virgin Mary all became wound into this one. Rocha never had a religious upbringing from her parents at home in Dublin, “so I never made my first Communion, so I never got to dress up in the white frocks, though all the girls around me at school did. Maybe that’s why I’m obsessed, making up for it,” she said with a laugh. “Of course, you can’t look at Ireland and not be influenced a little bit by Catholicism.” As always with Rocha, I’m completely in love.

Here are some of my picks from the collection: sheer pleated-detail blouse, Pearl Egg bag, ruched-detail slip skirt, cable-knit vest,mini bead embellished bag in purple & heraldic-motif socks. Click, click, click!

All collages by Edward Kanarecki, photos by Jacob Lillis for Simone Rocha.

Hyper Expression. Noir Kei Ninomiya AW20

Today in the morning, out of the blue, I thought to myself: I need to look at Noir Kei Ninomiya‘s autumn-winter 2020 collection. I’ve got no idea how I missed it in my Paris fashion week coverage last March, but I’m happy to catch up on it. This collection was extraordinary. Ever since he first appeared during spring 2016, Ninomiya has slowly expanded his stitch-free wearable sculptures, building grander and ever more unsettling architectures. This season he again pushed forward into new territories, while working for the first time with Icelandic installation artist Shoplifter (aka Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir) as well as his long-standing floral art collaborator, Makoto Azuma. The magic of creative collaboration delivered something quite unforgettable. Shoplifter (an artist whose chosen material is synthetic hair, her works include the cover of Björk’s 2004 album, Medúlla, and the mind-blowing installation in the Icelandic pavilion at last year’s Venice Biennale) added a fresh element to the interplay between Ninomiya’s materials and Azuma’s botanicals, specifically exaggerated hair extensions that made the silhouettes look and feel even more organic and out-of-this-world. In his usual enigmatic manner, Ninomiya had said this collection was mostly about the color red, in that as paint it can be mixed to create black. The metallic woven check fabric that was folded and whipped like air-filled ice cream around the body vaguely resembled a florist’s bouquet wrapping. The fronds of palm, succulent, tuber, and bamboo that nuzzled and nudged their way through and around Shoplifter’s hairy extensions created an impression of human and plant grafted together and slowly devouring each other. Ninomiya’s materials included golden wires that furled like unearthly waratahs around the wearer; interconnected safety pins built into pearl-linked globes or an entire dress; red feathers; strips of rivet-connected red tulle; and lengths of brass-colored steel wool frayed, then wrapped in transparent PVC and braided to resemble enormous Viking wigs. Those safety pins (also gracing a fine new shoe collaboration with Church’s) and the tartan section signified a punk undertone also present in the guitar: Ninomiya’s usual biker jacket motif was retired for the season, but he hit the fringe trend via a couple of apocalyptically enormous black pieces. The closing titanic fuzzball was at once hilarious and ominous – part dark cloud, part hyper-expressed protective aura, all Noir.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Dries Dreams

Yesterday I had a second glace at Dries Van Noten‘s autumn-winter 2020, a truly magnificent line-up, and just like that, from one collage I’ve ended up with an entire story. After last season‘s collaboration with Christian Lacroix, it was clear that Dries would somehow continue with this over-the-top energy. The designer was thinking about “nocturnal glamour” and particularly the dressed-to-kill creatures of the glam 1970s and high 1980s, whom he glimpsed from afar as a young man in Antwerp, in the form of the high-gloss photography of the makeup artist Serge Lutens. Maybe she was heading for a night at the most trendy club in Paris (well… corona is out in the wild, but let’s dream!). Or maybe that was her, wending her way home in daylight, with a plaid coat shrugged over her glitter. “It’s about going out, enjoying life – having fun, that’s very important!” he remarked back in March. “I thought of this party girl. Something mysterious. Something dark. But I questioned how far it could go, while staying contemporary.” His solution was to partially casualize the glamour by applying his melee of acid green and fuchsia jungle prints to fluid pajama shapes, and adding ’90s grunge–influenced plaids and hip-tied shirts to the mix. Equally head-turning: a dress in a violent purple, streaked with silver embroidery. The look-book photos by Tommy Ton additionally convey the vibrance of the collection. Now, here are my favourite looks, immersed in the subverted world of the Expressionists and Symbolists…

All collages by Edward Kanarecki.

Colour On. Nina Donis AW20

Donis Pouppis and Nina Neretina’s Nina Donis label is legendary within the Russian fashion industry. The duo met in the late 1980s while in university for textiles and started their own line, which they officially launched in 2000. The two went on to show at London Fashion Week for several seasons, but Moscow felt more like home. Now, the pair splits their time between Pouppis’s childhood home of Cyprus and the Russian capital, where the brand has amassed a dedicated following. As inspiration, they often look to Russian motifs, like Olympic uniforms and Russian traditional dress. For autumn-winter 2020, one might note a colour palette as bold as the one of Kazimir Malevich (or Pantone matching system). The duo were as well inspired by Jamie Julien Brown’s totem installations (the striped pieces!) as well as historic collars seen in El Greco’s portraits, deconstructed into verstaile accessories you can wear over a sweatshirt-dress or minimal knit. The collection’s must-have? Definitely here for the voluminous, yellow blouson with exaggerated bows down the sleeves. If you want to see more of Nina Donis, click here!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.