Dublin-born designer Simone Rocha’s clothes often feature patchworked fabrics, and a corresponding patchwork of ideas behind them. “Cross-pollination” was the phrase she used backstage at her show in Southwark Cathedral (if you can call hanging around by the altar backstage), to describe this season’s eclectic fusion of influences. She had been looking at Jackie Nickerson’s modern photographs of farmers in Africa, William John Leech’s paintings of convent girls in the early 20th century, and Paul Henry’s 1912 painting, The Potato Diggers.
One of Nickerson’s photos depicted someone covered in plastic and this inspired a mix of the synthetic and earthy that was probably the defining juxtaposition of the show. Thus clear plastic macs came embroidered with a flower print taken from a broderie anglaise that Rocha created specially for the collection, and soft tulle dresses were worn with clumpy patent wellies in black or red, with Perspex heels.
All these influences seamlessly became part of the signature Simone Rocha look: volume, Victoriana, Gothic Lolita, romance and deconstruction or as in this show, “collapsing tailoring”.
Tailored trenches, shirts and jackets in broderie anglaise, crisp cotton poplin and grey suiting checks came with one shoulder falling off and bundle-shaped bags in similar fabrics slung across the back, like a tea picker’s load. The burgeoning trend (as seen at JW Anderson and Emilia Wickstead) for interesting sleeves, was reflected in various puffed and bow-adorned versions on trenches and jackets.
Loose tea or tunic dresses in tulle or a patchwork of floral embroidered fabrics were draped and flounced, reflecting Rocha’s love of volume, and seeming pleasure in playing with material. These are likely to prove among the most wearable pieces when they appear in the Mount Street store she opened last year. Some of the prettiest dresses featured nude tulle embroidered with pastel flowers in ruffly, wedding cake-like mini tiers.
While palest pinks, primrose yellow, red, and black all made an appearance, white dominated the palette and gave outfits such as a ruffled midi dress in broderie anglaise with matching gloves an innocent purity. Just right for church.