Simone Rocha never puts a foot wrong. Hers is a world of beauty, optimism, art, family and motherhood. Each season, we’re invited in. And it’s a joy.
This season, our invitation came embroidered with little red dolls. The childish, innocent detail suggested that, as before, Rocha would be using her own life experiences, and her changing sense of womanhood as her daughter grows up, to inform her collection. In part, she did. The little bows that hung from models ears (Rocha makes the best jewellery in London) and the egg-shaped dresses, like a wrapped baby, were sweet and naïve. She talked of 'play dates' and 'playful play' - I thought less of childish fun and more of experimentation. Creative play. It feels like Rocha has become more fearless of late, more confident and assured in her ideas and tastes, more willing to push forward. The fearlessness of children is a wonderful thing - their curiosity, their honesty, their delight at the new or novel. I thought of that as her looks went by.
It is easy to roll your eyes when critics waffle on about how motherhood has changed female designers. No one ever says such things about men. But Rocha is a designer who has always considered what it means to be a woman at different life stages - how expectations, bodies and desires change. It is, to me, the basis of her brand. Despite her love of pearls, flowers and frills, her work is never girly or saccharine. Often it feels quite warped, quite radical. She’d cited the 1850s as a reference - note the rotund layered skirts - but this was one of the most modern, forward-thinking collections on show this London Fashion Week. It was so unweighted by the baggage of constant 'newness' or tricksy 'coolness' - it was authentic, honest, intelligent, as fashion should, and must, be today to have any kind of merit.