London Fashion Week: Simone Rocha's beautiful homage to her Chinese heritage

The Dublin designer’s towering veiled hats strike a grand note at the romantic S/S 19 show

Dublin designer Simone Rocha drew inspiration from the sumptuous dress of the 18th century and the traditional Ancestors Day ceremonies in Hong Kong for her romantic S/S 19 show at London Fashion Week. Video: Deirdre McQuillan

 

Simone Rocha’s spring show, in the palatial galleries of Lancaster House, was an exceptionally beautiful homage to the designer’s ancestral Chinese heritage. .

Though she drew inspiration from the sumptuous dress of the 18th century and the traditional Ancestors Day ceremonies in Hong Kong, this, like all her collections, came from those cultural links and a deeply personal place.

Models at Simone Rocha’s catwalk show for London Fashion Week.
Models at Simone Rocha’s catwalk show for London Fashion Week.

Suffused with red throughout, with towering veiled hats lending an air of grandeur or with pearl- and feather-jewelled hairbands, there were romantic high-necked dresses with slanting aprons and panels of red and white rosebud embroidery and others in subtle veiled brocades. White dresses were stitched with red motifs, white trenchcoats were soft and sensual, and the overall sensibility was modern, romantic, bound to stir desire.

The atmosphere at Rocha’s shows is usually one of reverence and expectation and invitations are highly coveted. Guests in Lancaster House, among them Jefferson Hack CEO of Dazed,  Jasmine Guinness and Nikki Creedon of Havana, her exclusive Irish stockist, were arranged in opulent interconnecting rooms on the first floor with a wide contingent of US and Asian buyers. The use of Chinese and European models reinforced the collection’s artful blending of two cultures in a collection with international appeal.

The introduction of veiling usually associated with mourning rather than celebration was another gifted stroke, an example of Rocha’s ability to re-imagine conventional accessories in fresh ways like she did with Perspex and pearls. Elsewhere, certain shapes like the strapless veiled balloon dresses were reminiscent of Balenciaga’s of the early 1950s as were some of the black jackets with their curved sloping shoulders with dainty  little slides, all feathers and crystal worn throughout. "In every show you are telling a story", she says.

Handwork and craftsmanship was evident throughout, and the veiling of fabric, plain or printed gave dresses a particular allure. The Chinese theme was subtle and not overpowering, reflected in lush silks and brocades, but offbeat black moiré short suits offered sharp everyday wear in another mode. It was a wonderful show, further strengthening Rocha’s international reputation as one of the most visionary of contemporary designers.

On the runway at the Simone Rocha show during London Fashion Week in London, England. Photograph: Tristan Fewings/BFC/Getty Images 

Guest editor

She is also the latest guest editor of A Magazine Curated By,out on October 4th. The magazines “explore the universe” of a different fashion designer with each issue and have become collectors’ items – other curators have included Maison Martin Margiela, Yohji Yamamoto, Riccardo Tisci (new creative head of Burberry), Stephen Jones, Irish van Herpen and Alessandro Michele of Gucci.

For her themes “Ireland, Hong Kong, Family”, Rocha has assembled a stellar cast of contributors, friends, family and creative collaborators, including acclaimed photographers Richard Mosse, Sarah Moon and Perry Ogden, artists Jenny Holzer and Louise Bourgeois and Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie, as well as up and coming talents. A trio of short films will be released to accompany the launch events during Frieze Art Fair at Dover Street Market and at her store in New York.

From the Simone Rocha show during London Fashion Week in London, England. Photograph: Tristan Fewings/BFC/Getty Images 
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