Simone Rocha's new store on London's increasingly fashionable Mount Street seems to have given the designer confidence — and a willingness to push herself to the limits of her imagination.
That meant in her show, held amid the gilded splendour of the Royal House of Lancaster, a clutch at her father's East Asian roots and the most beautiful rendition the designer has yet produced of bringing sensual depth to pretty clothes.
The powerful show mixed pink chiffon and tulle with rubber straps, and played the same game of transparency and sensuality in translucent rubbery sandals — footwear having been the designer's strength since her earlier days when she had pearls adorning shoes.
I should have expected a charnel addition to Simone Rocha's work, having seen the Francis Bacon images and tactile flesh-pink table in her store; or perhaps the emotion of a Louise Bourgeois installation.
But Simone attributed the show to her advanced pregnancy and the effect it had in its early stages during a trip to Japan.
"I was in Kyoto seven months ago, and I was feeling very influenced by their tradition of the old kimono, then I went to the bamboo forest and I became enveloped in it," the designer said. "It was so emotional. I thought, I'm going to do a collection out of this. It always has to come from something."
She went on to explain how she put the classic prints on tulle and then thought how to "integrate" photographs of the Japanese art of bondage.
The sexual suggestion was so delicate that it would appear as straps criss-crossing a powder-pink coat or on the jacket of a black trouser suit, or even in squishy transparent plastic sandals created from jellied silicone.
Perhaps the most beautiful rendition was a gauzy pink party dress with pink plastic braids tied across the breasts. Like so much of the collection, there was a focus on the hip line, with a fecundity of fabric in that area — but never done with a heavy hand.
Simone's strength is her consistency: the ability to focus on the tender colliding with the tough in a modern woman, her mind and her wardrobe. The designer's forte is dresses and the choices for the summer 2016 collection were varied but precise: a simple mouse-brown dress with big pockets and a single strap — and then a sprinkle of crystal at the collar. The same sparkles were scattered like fairy dust on hose.
The expression of body consciousness — shown with a transparency that never looked saucy or provocative — seemed totally modern. Simone Rocha has created a poster-girl style for womanhood surviving proudly into the twenty-first century.
And the designer says that it has helped to have the store as her new baby — before the real one arrives in November.
"It feels really good to have a store. It cemented things," Simone said. "It made me look at myself as a designer and what I should be doing, to think about products. It's started a conversation, and it's given me a sense of place.