It’s a rare occasion when you see your social media-fatigued peers—both in the fashion industry and outside of it—get truly excited about a(nother) designer collaboration, but Simone Rocha’s upcoming H&M collection has definitely sparked that reaction. Known for her fabulously feminine and romantic aesthetic, Rocha is bringing her unique vision to the mass market with this savvy tie-up, and has looked to her own archive over the past decade to inspire the soon-to-be-released collection (mark your calendars for 11 March!).
Speaking to Ann-Sofie Johansson, H&M’s long-time creative advisor, she told Vogue Singapore that the designer has been on their “wish-list for a long time”, having followed her work for a number of years now. “I think what really impressed us was how Simone has such a unique and special aesthetic, season on season; she has such a clear point of view,” she says. “She offers a really dynamic reflection on modern femininity, which is fascinating to see.”
Here, we speak to Rocha about this landmark collection, her first forays into menswear and childrenswear, and her favourite pieces to buy now and love forever.
How would you describe the Simone Rocha x H&M collaboration?
The collection brings together themes, or narratives, that are always present in my work; art history, craft, strong femininity, and, of course, elements of my own identity, my Irish heritage, and my Hong Kong heritage. We tried to make it very recognisably Simone Rocha. There’s the palette we adore—creams, pinks, reds—and the bespoke fabrications, which we put so much energy into, and, of course, the accessories and embellishments. It was a really pleasurable experience to look back at the archive, and reflect on how the brand has grown, and how certain classics have developed. It’s a celebration of over a decade in business. And it’s a collection for the whole family, which is a first for me.
What are some of the signature Simone Rocha elements that you have infused into the H&M collaboration?
There were certainly key signatures or collections that stood out as landmarks, and those especially have informed this collection. I spent a lot of time looking back at the first neoprene pearly collection we did, which was spring/summer 2014—it really felt like a moment in establishing my identity, and it was when I first introduced the pearl, which is now so signature.
I also looked at spring/summer 2016, which was partly inspired by the Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, and which was my first Fashion Week show in Lancaster House, and the Anne Boleyn collection, which was autumn/winter 2014, and mixing elements from that, such as the seersucker tartan checked dress, with more recent elements, like the pleated tulles from the Red Dolls collection, which was spring/summer 2018. I really wanted to take archive details and reimagine them. So, it’s not mere re-editions, it’s taking things and reinterpreting them for today and now.
It’s your first time designing menswear—how did you blend your ultrafeminine aesthetic into a collection for men?
I very much approached the whole collection, from the menswear to the womenswear and the childrenswear, as a whole family, with a shared aesthetic and style. One vision, one unit. So there are different versions of garments, say a trench, or knits, for him and for her; but they share a mood, and could be worn by anyone in whichever way they choose. It was nice to look back at some of the androgynous elements I explored early on in my brand—the suiting, the shirting, the brogues—and playfully combine those with other signatures, like the pearls. I’m so excited to see how people make the pieces their own—how they style and interpret them.
What was the most enjoyable part about collaborating with H&M?
I’m just really honoured and thrilled to be asked. It’s so enjoyable to follow in the footsteps of other designers who I have long admired—Margiela, Karl Lagerfeld, Alber Elbaz, Comme des Garçons, it’s such an amazing list of alumni to be a part of. I really believe in the H&M collaboration concept, both as a designer, and as a consumer. I still have socks from the Marni x H&M collection, I still have a Comme x H&M spotty knit. I remember the elation of being able to have those pieces—a part of fashion history. And for me to be able to do that for a generation that might not always have the opportunity to buy my pieces is thrilling—I am very humbled to be able to work with H&M on this.
What are some of your favourite pieces from the women’s collection?
I absolutely love the black tulle dress that can be layered over other dresses in the collection. It’s a really versatile piece and I can’t wait to see how other people style and wear it. I am also really pleased with the thick, beautifully-embellished knits—they are so special. Finally, I know that a lot of the H&M team are obsessed with the brogues with the pearl edging—brogues were one of the first cult accessories I developed when I was starting out my label, they really were one the first pieces we did that really resonated with people, so it’s nice to see that they still have that appeal to people.
I should say that I’m also so happy with childrenswear. The little miniature versions of my signature dresses! The knits for little boys! So sweet. I used to get asked to do childrenswear all the time, and of course in the past I have made bespoke pieces for my own daughter, but this is the first time I have done a collection for the whole family, so that felt really special.
The Simone Rocha x H&M collection launches on 11 March and will be available at hm.com and in selected stores.
See more images from the Simone Rocha x H&M lookbook below:
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