Simone Rocha wins designer of the year at British fashion awards

Award confirms rise of 30-year-old London-based Irish designer

Simone Rocha, winner of the  womenswear designer of the year  at the 2016 Fashion Awards  in London. Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters

Simone Rocha, winner of the womenswear designer of the year at the 2016 Fashion Awards in London. Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters


London-based Irish designer Simone Rocha scooped the Britain’s womenswear designer of the year award at the Fashion Awards at a gala event in the Royal Albert Hall on Monday.

The award further consolidates her star status in the fashion industry and the designer made reference in her acceptance speech to her father John Rocha winning the British designer of the year 24 years previously.

The rise of the 30-year-old designer to international recognition has been meteoric. An NCAD graduate who did her MA at Central St Martins in London, her mixed Irish Chinese heritage continually informs her work and her first catwalk show at London Fashion Week in 2010 was drawn from images of the Aran Islands and Perry Ogden’s famous photographs of “pony kids” in Dublin’s Smithfield.

Her collections have always retained their youthful spirit and strike at the heart of modern femininity whether using pearls, lace, tweed, pink neoprene or Lucite in new ways. Her shoes – silver loafers, perspex-heeled wellingtons – keep the looks grounded. “It’s about romance with a bit of grit, ” she once said.

Her clothes can be found in top stores and boutiques all around the world, from Dover Street Market in London to Colette in Paris, Ikram in Chicago, Bergdorf Goodman in New York, Corso Como in Milan and in Seoul and Shanghai. Havana in Donnybrook, Dublin, is the sole stockist in Ireland.

The award comes in the wake of many other acknowledgements of her talent; in 2013 she won best emerging designer at the British Fashion Awards and best future fashion award the same year. A year later she was voted young designer of the year at Harper’s Women of the Year awards and also carried off the British Fashion Award for new establishment designer.

In August 2015, the designer opened her first flagship in London’s Mount Street alongside Marc Jacobs and Celine and gave birth to her first child a few months later. “My family are very driven and that gave me a lot of determination” she told The New York Times. “They have always been like ‘it’s about your identity and who you are and what you want to say.”

Next spring, she will open her second shop, in Wooster Street, Manhattan.

British Emerging Talent: Molly Goddard
Presented by Alexa Chung & Jordan Kale Barrett

The Swarovski Award for Positive Change: Franca Sozzani (Editor in Chief, Vogue Italia & L’Uomo Vogue)
Presented by Tom Ford

British Menswear Designer: Craig Green for Craig Green
Presented by Lady Gaga

British Brand: Alexander McQueen
Presented by Naomi Campbell

International Model: Gigi Hadid
Presented by Donatella Versace

New Fashion Icons: Jaden & Willow Smith
Presented by Edward Enninful OBE & Skepta

Outstanding Achievement in Fashion: Ralph Lauren
Presented by David Beckham OBE