Simone Rocha may not have taken home the LVMH Prize, but the 27-year-old designer is in greater demand than ever. This month she’s poised (like Christopher Kane before her) to launch a collaboration with J Brand, and in Love‘s latest issue, she sits down with Comme des Garçons International president (and husband to designer Rei Kawakubo) Adrian Joffe. Joffe has been a staunch supporter since Rocha debuted her first collection with Fashion East back in 2010, and he also happens to have known the designer since she was a child. In the Q&A, moderated by Love editor Jack Sunnucks, Rocha and Joffe talk cultural identity, her “abysmal” academic performance, and the six dearly departed Joffe-Kawakubo cats. Also of note? The possibility that a Simone Rocha scent may just be hitting Dover Street Market shelves in the future.
An exclusive excerpt as well as a Patrick Demarchelier-lensed, Katie Grand-styled portrait of Rocha (sporting her own design) debuts below. To read the full interview, pick up Love Issue 12, as covered by Christy Turlington (shot by Inez & Vinoodh, and pictured above), Adriana Lima, Kendall Jenner, and Amy Adams. It hits newsstands July 28.
— Kristin Anderson, Style.com
When Love joins Simone Rocha and Adrian Joffe, the pair are debating the very important topic of pets: Adrian has just revealed that he and his wife, Rei Kawakubo, used to have six cats at home in Japan.
Adrian Joffe: We liked cats, but there’s none left—they’re all gone. So nothing at the moment. But with traveling and everything it’s sad to leave animals alone, isn’t it?
Simone Rocha: That’s exactly what happened to me. We ended up moving around so much. They really need company.
AJ: Being half Chinese, half Irish—does that influence your work, do you think? Do you feel Chinese or Irish? Or does it not matter?
SR: I think it does matter. They’re so different. But one thing that is very important in both Irish culture and Chinese culture is family. So both my mum and dad have really big families and really important relationships with all their family. I love being Irish and not looking Irish, and I love going to Hong Kong and knowing that my granny lives there and my aunts and uncles, and I can go out and they’ll all speak Cantonese and play mah-jongg.
AJ: I’m guessing, though, that you don’t like to be referred to as Simone Rocha, the half-Chinese, half-Irish designer. That limits you, doesn’t it?
SR: I’d rather just be a designer. But I am very proud. I don’t mind being called an Irish designer, because a lot of people call me a British designer. I can feel the whole Ireland kicking off when that happens!
AJ: Do you remember your first memory of liking fashion? Was there one thing that set your love of fashion in motion?
SR: It actually just felt totally natural being around fashion, being around clothes. I absolutely love the smell of plastic bags—you know, when everything’s being hung up and shipped out.
I decided to do fine art originally, because I thought fashion would be a cliché. But after a year in college I’d done sculpture, ceramics, print—and then the very last discipline was fashion. And then I was like, Oh no, this is it—this is how I can translate my creativity.
I was actually a terrible student. I was abysmal in my B.A. None of my teachers thought I cared. And I didn’t. But I was still producing work, and there was obviously something in it!
AJ: You were having fun, I hope!
SR: That was the problem! I was having far too much fun—far too interested in socializing. But then I got in on the M.A., and around two weeks into it… Well, I’d never cared so much about something in my whole life.
AJ: So now you’ve done three shops with Dover Street. Can we do your perfume, too?
SR: That would be fabulous! I’d love that. I already know what it will smell like. Something real, but something really special.
Photos: Inez & Vinoodh (cover); Patrick Demarchelier (Simone Rocha)