Simone Rocha Is Able to Move On

There have been actually two queues the day before the Queen’s funeral in London. The primary was the foremost one, the queue with a capital Q, where Brits (including David Beckham) stood for 12 hours to walk by a coffin that—based on every seasoned cab driver I had—was actually empty. (“Her Majesty’s corpse is already resting in peace in Windsor,” smirked one as we chugged across the Thames, peering at people waiting (and waiting, and waiting…) on the opposite side.

The second was to talk with Simone Rocha, the designer who has come to represent essentially all of Britain’s current style goals. Her tulle poufs of astonishment are wacky enough ride the UK’s eccentric fashion legacy, which incorporates Alexander McQueen’s slashed aristocracy and John Galliano’s shredded luxury. But her stuff also boasts a softness—round sleeves, floral embroidery, pearl beading—that aligns the Irish millennial with Great Britain’s girl crew, including bankable superstars like Stella McCartney and Claire Waight Keller, together with McQueen’s current headmistress, Sarah Burton. Rocha’s also got Haim, Gemma Chan, Rihanna, and Nicola Coughlin on her list of clients, together with a sold-out H&M collaboration to prove her universal appeal. So, what’s next?

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Well first, a variety of rumors, none of which anyone official desires to discuss. There’s the whisper network that claims she might make a play for Miu Miu; one other that aligns her with a cash-fueled cosmetics company; some front row chatter a couple of Gaultier couture collab. It’s just a little like fantasy football, but for fashion—which is to say, mostly flawed, with one or two gold nugget ideas that might/would/needs to be really rad.

What’s also rad is that this current collection, which sees the 36-year-old moving into sportswear, but doing it her way. There’s a fluttering parachute parka that turns Top Gun into an Alice in Wonderland chapter, a debut into menswear that features loads of kilts and shirting that their girlfriends will little doubt wish to steal, a series of crystal-beaded pocket chains that dainty up and ante up the Hot Topic vibes of Y2K nostalgia, and clever rubber-bottomed Mary Janes which can be special without being precious, and based enough in point of fact you could actually run to catch a bus in them. (Or, stand in them for hours to see a coffin without hurting your feet.)

But Rocha prefers to debate future-forward things relatively than a recently deceased monarch, though backstage within the queue, she’s having a hell of a time. “Are you sure there’s nothing about mourning?” asks one UK journalist relatively insistently. “It’s really about moving forward with a way of urgency,” she replies, noting that the blossoms she referenced—echinacea, daisy, even coffee—have “a way of medication to them that represent healing; it’s really meant to be a balm.” As for the veils—some black, some white—Rocha notes, “the veils got here originally through the menswear designs…I used to be fascinated by masculinity, and the way we embrace and challenge it, and I desired to bring that fragility into it. The veils became a tool to harness these emotions of feeling displaced, depressed, upset, and the urgency of getting out of that. They felt very uplifting—they didn’t feel like veils in any respect. More like colourful light that’s been totally aerated. They were really a reference to the parachutes, and feeling lighter. I believe, greater than anything, it’s a couple of shedding of the skin.”

simone rocha fall  winter 2022

Getty Images

Rocha has never been one to point out much actual skin in her collections—her idea of sex seems strapped into the mystery of what lies beneath a pulsing, pearlescent shell of armor—but her partnership with Thomas de Kluyver (a.k.a. Gucci’s Beauty Dude) has yielded some cool beauty and skincare ideas, including masking the complete face in lilac glitter (“A glowing complexion!”) and rimming the lash line in fuchsia liner, turning “red eyes” from the aftermath of an excellent weeping session right into a relatively cool approach to stare someone down.

Because the UK equipped to look at a burial, Rocha continued to patiently explain her vision, and the gathering it manifested “was this concept of digging deep into the earth. This concept of the center and soul coming up through the bottom…leaves, blossoms, healing through flowers…and just this sense of urgency to physically attempt to release things. Like, we’ve gotta go.”

“Her beauty and her brain go not together.” —William Shakespeare

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