When it comes to dressing pretty, Simone Rocha reigns supreme. Pastel shades worthy of Marie Antoinette, ruffles and ruching galore, puff sleeves and pearls – she's become the face of modern romance. With an ever-increasing legion of fans, her clothes are the perfect interpretation of contemporary femininity.
As a young fashion assistant, I would watch her father John’s shows during London Fashion Week – they were some of my first ever catwalk experiences so I’ve charted his daughter’s ascent from the start. He had an ethereal mastery that earned him a CBE – something which has been inherited by Simone (sweetly, he also taught her to sew). After graduating from The National College of Art and Design in Dublin and Central St Martins, she launched her eponymous label in 2010 and by 2016 had opened her first store in Mount Street (a beautiful, immersive retail experience) and won the British Womenswear Designer of the Year at the BFAs. She’s done some savvy collaborations, too. J Brand asked to design 14 part collection, where she reinvented denim with ruffles, while Moncler got her on board for the Genius range (her broiderie anglais belted shell coat is a stand out).
There’s also a dark side to the ravishing beauty Simone creates. The revered stylist Isabella Blow used to say that in art you need contrast, light and shade. Simone is a master of this. Signature statement trapeze dresses are given a weighty full stop with flat, often heavily platformed sandals (there's not a stiletto in sight), nothing is too saccharine and sweet. Headdresses embellished with pearls and flowers are also given an unexpected twist with sporadic spikes.
Her fabrics are often where she manifests her Irish heritage – antique table cloths, lace, doilies. White, ecru, camel, pastels make up most of the colour palette but there’s enough black to appeal to the masses, too, albeit still pretty with ruffles and volume. This season surely sees one of her prettiest collections to date – her blue and white delft print dress is a favourite and such a great example of how her clothes meld what women wore in the past and what they wear now. It’s a bit like playing dress up when you wear her pieces, but they cleverly land on the right side of practical.
I think a key part of Simone’s success is that her clothes appeal to all women, of any age, and any size. And trapeze dresses aren’t her only forte – directional tailoring is key. In fact, if you were to invest in anything this season, a printed poplin shirt and some of her covetable icicle earrings would be it. She’s the kind of designer you want to start investing in and gradually build up a collection. Simone says herself:
Of course, if you love the Simone Rocha look but don’t have the budget, it's still possible to create it using other brands. An embellished headband, pearl earrings, a voluminous midi dress and chunky flat sandals are key to her spring/summer look. There are plenty of pearl and crystal bands about – I always find Anthropologie has a great collection – and frayed raffia is also key. Other high end designers such as Molly Goddard, Cecilie Bahnson are favourites for Victoriana midi dresses, but the high street has diligently followed suit. Also, be sure to have a look through your existing wardrobe. I have a pair of Isabel Marant chunky flat sandals from last summer that I'll be using to complete my look. If you’re still on the hunt, one of my favourite brands is Arizona Love, which has a fab pearl encrusted pair at a really good price. So, bring out the pearls, puff up your sleeves and keep your footwear heavy to pay homage to this homegrown talent.
INSPIRATION CREDITS: SimoneRocha SS20 Runway
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