Monday 17th February

| BY Dino Bonacic

Simone Rocha: Ready-to-wear AW20

A creamy procession of fine, tea-stained looking heavy silks and braided knits began last night’s Simone Rocha show, embellished with fishermen bags in crystals and pearls which sparkled in the spotlights of Lancaster House, a historic site currently run by The Foreign & Commonwealth Office. It’s not a venue foreign to Rocha – she’s hosted several of her past catwalk shows there. But this one felt somehow different. 

In the usual Rocha decadence of textures which ensues as soon as the collection starts to unravel, her AW20 collection felt more dishevelled and modest. This was perhaps due to Rocha’s starting point for the season – Riders to the Sea, a play by Irish writer John Millington Synge telling a story of a family grieving the loss caused by the sea. The innocence of white, cream and ecru that started us off suddenly took a turn into darkness, with Rocha’s collection going from baptism and communion to death and mourning. “You can’t research Ireland without catholicism creeping in,” she said post-show, explaining the Sacred Heart embroideries and St. Malachy’s name printed across dresses. A deep, midnight shade of blue made its appearance in frocks and sashes interwoven with black tailoring and seemed like a new addition to the rich Simone Rocha colour wheel.

The collection then moved on from the sorrow back into the light or “the rebirth,” as the designer noted. The trio of white dresses enriched with lace veils and pearl crowns finished the collection, as what seemed like a nod to Rocha’s success in the bridal world. Backstage after the show, the designer said it was actually her finale of mourning attire, but done in white instead of black to avoid a visual pastiche. Mythic, ominous, visceral – call this however you want. We’d like to call it Rocha’s most powerful collection to date.

Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans.