The designer looked less to her native Ireland and rather to the Edwardian era, celebrating pure femininity. Simone Rocha stood beside models whose white cotton-with-frills dresses suggested clouds of feminine prettiness – in contrast to the noble and historic background of Middle Temple Hall, the British law chamber, which was heavy with masculinity.
“It was supposed to be very playful – naïve, innocent and almost a contrast to last season’s maturity,” said the designer. “I was quite hard and very protective and I wanted to break that down. Also, I wanted to bring people very close. The show is very intimate and I really wanted to show off all the handwork, because for me it’s so important.”
Simone went on to say that rather than being inspired by her background in Ireland – earth and church – which has nourished so many of her collections, she was thinking of the Edwardian era and of women as dolls “on a play date”. Think of white chiffon dresses with yellow and red flat flowers, scarlet ribbons, hair slides of glassy pearls and frilly red shoes.
Pearls had also come back to the feet with the pretty shoes that had first brought the designer to notice in earlier collections now remodelled.
“The girls and the pearls – I can’t let it go!” said the designer. “But also it was really the idea of my signatures: pearls, silhouette, frills, embellishment, and almost exaggerating it. So frills are now really long and deconstructed, they’re trailing on the floor. The volume is exploding with more pleating inside – and then there are scallops.”
How do you make frilly females seem in any way modern? Simone may have played with a baby doll innocence. But her childish decorations, which included embroideries of kids holding hands as they romped across a white dress, never had an inkling of sexuality. Lace hemlines, bows of black beads in the hair and handbags with leaf decoration were far from a Lolita image.
What Simone brings to fashion is an extraordinary feeling about womanhood that includes some of the things she listed on brief show notes: “comfort, comforters; fragility”. However much her thesis might seem irrelevant to the 21st century, she brings an emotional touch that it is compelling. “To sleep, perchance to dream”, as Shakespeare put it in Hamlet. It is rare to see a designer who is also a poet in cloth.