In the aisle of Southwark Cathedral, a stone's throw from London Bridge, Simone Rocha sent out a collection that could not have been steeped deeper in her Irish homeland.
Every white lace communion dress, adapted as fresh, summer fashion and each country maiden outfit smothered in buttercup yellow flowers or cherry red dots, had a meadow sweetness so very far from Ireland today with its high rise headquarters of Apple and Google.
Simone made no pretensions to anything but nostalgia for a picture postcard Ireland. But also emphasised in her show notes "hard working days". Hence the innocent maidens wearing upmarket rubber gloves.
"We went to an amazing show in the National Gallery in Ireland of Jackie Nickerson's farm photos, shown with the old masters from the permanent collection," said the designer.
"So it was all these beautiful Victorian Catholic paintings, mixed with textiles from workers on the farm. There was poetry from the old masters, but I wanted to ground it with a utilitarian, or uniform, feel."
As an example of this dreamy innocence mixed with down-on-the-farm reality, Simone made footwear as Perspex boots or heels and shifted the romance of the garden off-kilter with unexpected patchworks, for example organza trimmed prettily with broderie anglaise.
"There is a lot of special embroidered handwork in the tulle, but then we've actually done a hand-crafted scallop growing out of it, so there's a real 3D feeling," the designer said.
The story was about weighing the poetic with the utilitarian, which made for a magical combination — a dreamscape nudging reality.
That meant formal trench coats with Victorian sleeves, sturdy gingham and gossamer light dresses in organza, decorated with flowers. There was even a solid beige raincoat buttoned and belted over a white chiffon dress and black Wellington boots with transparent heels. The concept was the elevation of High Church grounded in muddy feet on a rainy day.
Simone has a real talent for the mix — half dream and half reality — as exemplified by potato sack bags in vibrant materials worn across the body. But the cathedral setting, the innocence of the communion dresses and the lightness of touch suggested that she is a romantic who works hard to create clothes to make fellow women dream.