Simone Rocha could have had another season at Fashion East and may have possibly outshone her fellow Fashion Easters but instead she chose to go it alone this season, showing off-schedule. Still, the show was heaving enough to make me excited for what was to come. New voices that don't have on-schedule support like Rocha can most certainly stand up to the established heavyweights (including her own father!) and really make a shout.
She forged ahead and established her own style of having a real sensitivity and understanding with her fabrics creating tension where necessary so that her clothes will always have a slightly darker, off-kilter appeal without sacrificing beauty in the process. Louise Bourgeois continues to give Rocha the impetus to 'find sense out of nonsense, order out of disorder.'
The shine of a surface
The sheen of a sentence
The form of a piece
of a statue
of a cloth
of a hairdo'
Her fabric weapon of choice was lace which could so very easily have come off looking like Rocha went down a conventional route to prettiness. Instead the lace was paired with plastics with some instances of rubber. The simplicity of trapping lace panels and French antique broideries in a plastic shirt collar or in an a-line skirt is an effective one giving Rocha that tension that makes a pretty ensemble into an intriguing one. I'm alas, one of those people that always goes for the latter. There's something about seeing a beautiful bit of lace encased in plastic that reminds me of when I used to press flowers and then laminate them to preserve them – if you want to get poetic and existential then I could read into the collection and comment on Rocha perhaps trying to ensconce the beautiful into a permanent state. Then again, that would be lofty thinking. Just think of all this pretty lace that can withstand summer rain. There, you see! A practical note!
The contrast between a modern fabric and one that has historic provenance seems to support a growing theme from LFW – man vs. machine, natural vs. unnatural – as seen at shows like J.W. Anderson and Mary Katrantzou. Rocha relishes in other juxtapositions too. The strength of a masculine jacket is softened up by delicate tulle sleeves, a style that is becoming something of a signature for her, and it can also now be seen in a new Topshop collaboration where a boxy white shirt dress has its sleeves replaced with coral or cream tulle. In a collection that is so texture ridden it's good to see Rocha hasn't forgotten about shape as well as a plethora of layering options that is definitely apparent if you go in and see the current A/W 11-12 collection in the John Rocha Dover Street store.
The standout shoes from the current collection (also in the Dover Street store) have been reincarnated with plastic uppers for S/S 12. Rocha probably thought "Why change a good thing?" and quite rightly so! The styles shown were red, clear, green and punched with embroidered crosses (a reference perhaps to her S/S 12 acrylic cross clutches?) and come as wedges as well as the flatter brogues with perspex heels. Save the pennies because these don't come cheap but as someone who bought the red ponyskin ones from A/W 11-12, I can attest that they are about as close to shoe manufacture perfection as they can get in addition to being footwear architectural feats.