With vivid light from a stained glass window illuminating one church wall and organ music coming from the opposite side, young women walked the knave. Their hair was wet and tangled like a drowning Ophelia. Their black dresses and shoes were plain, except for a waft of fluff.
The sweet solemnity of the Simone Rocha
show was the most romantic vision of womanhood seen in the London spring/summer 2015 shows. Every emotion was there, from sobre moments with chiffon headscarves, as though going to Sunday worship, to wild oriental flowers in lacquer red.
“I was thinking so much of ballet,” said the designer backstage. And she must surely have been thinking of her own poetic steps: her Irish background, with her grandmother’s crochet, worked into the collection; her extended Asian family in Hong Kong; and her step forward as the lone representative of the Rocha family, her father John having retired this season.
But emotion, however heartfelt, is nothing in fashion if you cannot represent that feeling in clothes. And Simone Rocha did not put a fluffy shoe wrong (even if she herself was wearing her signature pearl-decorated slippers).
The fragility of the women in simple nude chiffon dresses with a curving furry hem; the energy in the red florals and polka dots; the lacy, bridal white… All this emotion gathered into perfect modern clothes: decent dresses, tailored coats, often worn over straight trousers and flat shoes. The work on fabrics, which is one of the designer’s strengths, made apparently simple pieces special.
Simone, who dedicated the show to the late Professor Louise Wilson, her mentor at Saint Martin’s, is a true talent with a sweet, clear voice. London fashion once had a New Romantics phase. Simone Roche is the post-feminist, 21st-century version.