Simone Rocha is fond of the grittiness of women’s lives. The blood, sweat and tears. One of her recent collections preoccupied itself with postpartum life, with the colours and surface decoration inspired by dripping blood, the hair and makeup taking cues from the messiness of motherhood. Conflating grit and vulnerability, her designs whisk women away to another world, where the interplay between saccharinity and strength is the spoken language. She creates frothy tulle dresses. She designs comfortable fur coats. Trousers, albeit rarely sighted, are generously proportioned, suitable for all conditions. There is nothing but respect in every stitch. And it’s all poetic, implicit.
For Fall 2018, ensconcing her audience within the grandiosity of the ballroom at Goldsmith’s Hall, walking distance from St. Paul’s Cathedral, she looked at Victorian landscapes, chiefly those painted by John Constable in the early 17th century. She situated her woman within these landscapes, configuring the modern interpretation of dress in Georgian and Victorian England. Her florals were rendered in a genteel pastels, washed out like aged frescos. There was a utilitarian air to her apron dress and those smocks over shirts, the glossy leather coats, or embossed jacquards. It was evocative of a rich splendour which matched the venue.
She expanded her vocabulary of graphics this season with tartan which evoked the countercultural revival in the 1980s, a degree of toughness which felt pertinent in the current sociopolitical climate. Red and black were juxtaposed traditionally and Rocha’s addition of bows added a distinctive playfully feminine slant on things.
Nothing struck one as groundbreaking but that’s not what this brand is about. Simone Rocha’s mission statement could be about supporting and respecting through making covetable clothing. For those reliable, timeless dresses with enough frill and fanciness to captivate, with subtle touches of ostentation but never obnoxious doses.
She deserves the utmost respect for what she’s managed to cultivate with her business. An independent, family-run operation, in London. A story on Mount Street in London’s tony Mayfair neighbourhood and an expansive retail outpost on New York’s cobbled Wooster Street. It’s going from strength to strength as far as all that is concerned and the fashion press and buyers are out in droves to support the Irish wunderkind. Undoubtedly, she flies the flag for Irish design with aplomb.
But things don’t really change. The aesthetics haven’t shifted much in recent years. When she started out there was a minimalist inclination which developed into a subverted femininity which has become her signature. There was the much-reported season where she delved into militaristic territory but she seems to only have dipped her toes into those waters. Here, she returns to a default; as delectable and delightful as it is, one can’t help but wonder what else is on the cards for the Simone Rocha woman.Would Rocha rather push her aesthetic towards new beginnings, flexing her creative muscle, or will she continue to propose similar, slightly modified options. In an increasingly fickle fashion industry, is adaption a greater asset than consistency, or vice versa?