Monday 16th September

| BY Dino Bonacic

Simone Rocha: Ready-To-Wear SS20

Sometimes, very rarely, does a fashion show create a mood so strong you get to forget where you came from and where you’re going next. Simone Rocha’s SS20 show did exactly that. Whether it’s the fact the fashion crowds were so far removed from the bustle of central London (her show took place in a derelict theatre inside Alexandra Palace), or the actual garments which all brought in an unapologetic sense of fantasy – it’s difficult to say, but the emotion in the air was palpable.

This season, it was the ancient Irish tradition of Wren Day that enriched the frills and feathers of Rocha’s design signature. The use of raffia straw across the collection referenced the uniforms wrenmen wore while begging the towners for donations. But these wren women didn’t beg – there was everything in abundance. The influence of Japanese dress continued too, some of the straw elements also drawing from mino, a traditional Japanese raincoat made out of dried grass. Layers of tulle, silk and lace built sculptural silhouettes which, however exuberant, still looked like wearable garments. What stood out the most was the way Rocha used textiles in the last part of the collection – the weight of each fabric was carefully considered as it made sure the frock hangs on the body in just the right way.

Bags and shoes with ostrich feathers, headbands embellished with spikes and crystals. An absolute standout in the accessory department was a giant pearl bag, as worn by the ethereal beauty Karen Nelson. Casting always plays a powerful element in delivering Rocha’s vision, and this season was no different. Young and old, fresh-faced or adorned with years of experience. It doesn’t really matter – the woman wearing these clothes is a powerful creature taken from an old wife’s tale and living to the world of today. She is Lesley Manville, the British actress with a Hollywood pedigree.

While there was a lot to take in, the intellectual nature of Simone Rocha’s designs isn’t impossible to understand. You don’t need to get every reference in order to appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship on display. London Fashion Week really wouldn’t be the same without her.

Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans