With just over a fortnight to go until Simone Rocha unveils her highly-anticipated collaboration with H&M, the designer presented an autumn/winter 2021 showcase awash with post lockdown-worthy looks.
Here, Olivia Singer brings you five things to know about the showcase.
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It was a return to her roots…
Simone Rocha—ever fashion’s darling—has seen her star status ascend ever higher in recent months, with the announcement of her H&M collaboration prompting a global obsession with her off-kilter romance. Amidst the frenzy, 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. “A little punk princess,” reflected Fashion East’s Lulu Kennedy of her early years. 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 said. “To look at the codes which felt very me.”
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… But seen from a new perspective
While, all those years ago, Rocha was reflecting on her own school uniform, as a mother in lockdown her perspective has slightly shifted. “My daughter’s not in school at the moment, she’s at home,” Rocha noted. “It’s something that we’re thinking about all the time: that she’s missing being part of a community, not even putting on her school uniform. But that gives her that moment to have her own personal identity [through dress] as well, which infiltrated into it.” While this certainly wasn’t a childrenswear collection (head to H&M for that), “I was thinking about the naiveté of uniform,” she said. Enter: crisp white shirting, neat little lunch boxes, and schoolgirl pinafores executed without a touch of twee.
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Contrast was key
“I was working my femininity into a harder, more protective shell; working with fragile fabric which would explode out of it,” the designer continued. 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 (not an easy dichotomy to manage). “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.”
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Creeping roses were the motif of the season
Embroidered across tulle, hand-painted onto pearls or frilled through the seams of bikers appeared creeping roses: “it’s very important to me that, even though it’s seen digitally, it still feels tactile,” reflected Simone. “I focused on a lot of handwork because everything is 2D.” Elsewhere, fabric tapestries were patchworked and pleated into deconstructed day dresses: a new introduction to her aesthetic vocabulary which is sure to please her devoted acolytes. During a time when human touch is quite literally forbidden, the thought of at least wearing clothes intricately imbued with it is magnetically appealing.
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The accessories were exceptional
It’s no revelation that Simone Rocha’s accessories are a standout: the dripping, beaded jewellery and weirdly wonderful shoes she designs are some of fashion’s favourites. But this season they were particularly good—porcelain cameos turned into earrings; crumpled leather rose bags; a new floral iteration of her classic chandelier earrings; thick-soled shoes with scalloped platforms. I’ll stop before this becomes a wish-list of the lot. Look at the pictures and compile your own. It’ll be worth it.
This article was originally published on British Vogue