SIMONE ROCHA AUTUMN/WINTER 2015-16 READY-TO-WEAR LONDON FASHION WEEK
Simone Rocha has been killing it the past few seasons, expanding the aesthetic vocabulary of her young brand at lightning speed in a series of hauntingly beautiful collections. It’s not entirely a surprise, then, that this outing found her in a bit of a holding pattern. Rocha was taking stock here, returning to a touchstone inspiration—Louise Bourgeois, on whom Rocha wrote her art college thesis—as she revisited and elaborated ideas developed in seasons past. Her new collection was as evocative and distinctive as the previous few, but more circumscribed in its innovations. Which is fine, by the way—a designer on a hot streak has the right to catch her breath.
The influence of Bourgeois was evident from the first few looks, padded velvet ensembles assembled from undulating forms. She was there, too, in the collection’s reliance on tapestry fabrics woven from chenille: As Rocha explained after her show, Bourgeois’ family actually owned a tapestry factory, and Rocha had recently seen a show of Bourgeois’ work utilizing the material. The tapestry looks here either played to the fabric’s stiffness, as in the various tailored looks, or fought it bitterly, wrapping the material around the body and/or forcing it into sculptural ruffles. Rocha described the process as “getting her body into the process,” an apt phrase given the muscularity of these looks. Elsewhere, Rocha took a new whack at the naked floral dresses she sent out for Spring, embroidering chenille yarn onto tulle to create William Morris-esque patterns.
Given the collection’s emphasis on mass—witnessed in the tapestry, and in the padded velvet and organza—there was a certain palate-cleansing pleasure to be found in the looks that had a sense of looseness. Soft black silk dresses embellished with ruffles did the trick; so did the pieces in red or black plaid tweed, which introduced a graphic element that felt new for Rocha. In between, there were numerous compelling looks that felt more familiar in their appeal, such as the coats with ballooning sleeves or sultry black lace pencil skirts. Rocha may have been resting a bit on her laurels this season, but you still sensed her creative restlessness in these clothes. And anyway, they’re great laurels on which to rest.