John Rocha announces retirement from fashion

Designer’s use of Irish crafts won him many awards throughout career

Designer John Rocha, who turned 60 last year, is to retire from fashion to pursue other interests.  Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Designer John Rocha, who turned 60 last year, is to retire from fashion to pursue other interests. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Fri, May 9, 2014, 20:15

John Rocha is to retire from fashion and from London Fashion Week where he first showed 30 years ago it was announced today. The designer who celebrated his 60th birthday last year said he wanted to pursue other projects and “live by my calendar and not that of Fashion Week” a move he had discussed for some time with his wife and business partner Odette.

The news follows his acclaimed autumn/winter collection held in London in February in the wake of recent work many consider his best. His use of handwork and intricate crochet, knit and appliqué brought a new look to Irish heritage crafts and earned him innumerable awards including British Designer of the Year in 1993 and a CBE in 2002. His daughter Simone, a fast rising fashion star internationally will, however, continue the family tradition.

Born in Hong Kong of Chinese/Portuguese ancestry, Rocha came to London in the 1970s where he studied fashion and became interested in traditional handcrafts. He moved to Ireland in the 1980s which has been his home ever since and where he has extended his design portfolio to include crystal, jewellery, architecture and interiors working in Ireland, the UK, France and Hungary. He opened his flagship store in Mayfair in 2007.

For a dedicated family man whose passions include fly fishing, his move will allow him more time to travel, to pursue other architectural projects and to spend Chinese New Year with his family for the first time. “It’s the end of an era” said Nikki Creedon of Havana boutique in Dublin, his stockist for the past decade. “His wonderful Asian/Celtic crochet pieces will now be treasured possessions”.

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