All white now

 

THE CAREER OF Simone Rocha, one of a rising generation of new fashion stars, has taken off with dizzying speed in the past 12 months. “For a 22-year-old MA graduate to get to show in London with Fashion East on the official calendar and then to go to Paris, has been fantastic,” she says when we meet during Paris Fashion Week. But she also acknowledges the support of her family. “I just couldn’t have done it without them.”

Rocha, a graduate of NCAD and St Martin’s, is now permanently based in London, and has just moved into a new studio in the city’s fashionable East End. It is an old warehouse with commercial spaces for fashion designers, bands “and even people making robots”, where she works with an assistant, a cutter and two interns.

One of 22 young designers chosen by the British Fashion Council to present their winter 2011 collections in a gallery in the Marais during Paris Fashion Week, Rocha picked up 12 new stockists as a result. These include Colette, the cult Paris boutique, the ultra-hip Curve in LA and Miami, and upmarket I.T in Hong Kong. “Paris is where you can make your mark and where the real [fashion] world happens,” she says.

Her avant garde tailoring, her mix of hard and soft materials and signature cut-out panels have not only impressed serious buyers, but also won widespread accolades from the fashion press in London and Paris. Her clothes featured on the cover of Time Out during London Fashion Week, her portrait has appeared in French Vogue and a whole fashion shoot devoted to her collection, modelled by Dree Hemingway and photographed in Los Angeles, was the focus of the recent issue of the hip London magazine Tank.

Only a month ago, she was selected as one of Selfridge’s Bright Young Things, not long after having being commissioned by Topshop to do a line of accessories. Even her romanticised “hoof” shoes with their Perspex heels – “the most difficult ever made by the Italian factory” she says – have become a success.

Now she’s bringing her first collection, for spring 2011, home to Dublin. It will be sold at a pop-up shop in Havana in Donnybrook, Dublin 4, from next Friday until April 7th, with a window display as unconventional as her clothes. Designed more like an art installation and without the usual shop mannequins, “it’s more like a Francis Bacon studio, with all my work and regalia on the floor and my collection suspended above it”, she says.

SIMONE ROCHA’S LIFE IN LONDON

Shops:I love Claire de Lune near St Martin’s, which has beautiful magazines and books. My latest buy was a book on Ryan McGinley, the young American photographer. I do a lot of markets like the Portobello Market and car boot sales. I like Margiela’s shoes in his Maison Margiela’s shop in Bruton Street, and the selection in the Dover Street Market.

Restaurant: A Little of What You Fancy (a hip London hangout in Dalston in the East End) is really casual and fun. I love their scrambled eggs and roast tomatoes.

Galleries: I absolutely love Tate Britain and have always been inspired by Louise Bourgeois, particularly her fabric – my winter collection is a little ode to her. I also love the Saatchi Gallery, it is a beautiful building, and St. Martin’s library.

Markets: The flower market in Colombia Road and the Broadway food market on Saturday, where I meet friends.

Currently reading: The Third Policemanby Flann O’Brien. It’s been my saviour in Paris.