Did Simone Rocha just steal London Fashion Week before it’s even ended? With her Spring/Summer 2023 collection, which debuted earlier today at the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales — colloquially known as The Old Bailey — it seems Rocha might have just done just that. With a formative background that commenced under Lulu Kennedy’s Fashion East class of 2010, as well as an education at Central Saint Martins, Rocha has made a name for herself for consistently delivering season after season; each kitted out in her usual romantic design language.
For SS23, Rocha took us to court, and we solemnly swear it was hands-down her greatest achievement to date. Not only did the designer present her first fully-formed menswear collection, but she also managed to marry this newness with house codes and her expected level of attention to detail across both lines.
To the tune of piercing Opera music (a soundtrack that heightened the emotion in the room all by itself), tulle formations enveloped the body like soft waves, working alongside ribbons that draped onto the floor and floral baroque motifs to create a sense of drama and unmissable statement-making looks. Pearl beads adorned the shoulders of frill-fronting sweater vests, as well as the straps of larger-than-life backpacks and, of course, Rocha’s signature bags reminiscent of pearls themselves.
Approval was granted from the very second menswear descended onto the runway, as Rocha showed the symbiotic relationship between her well-defined catalog of womenswear and the new menswear range. Tulle was served in cream but had a decidedly harder edge to it, eschewing frills for falling structural formations descending from massively oversized bomber jackets. This combination — a soft and hard approach — taps into Rocha’s ability to be aware of having commerciality as a designer, knowing full well the general menswear buyer might not want to opt for frills, but can still access the look via the aforementioned bomber.
Likewise, another bomber jacket — this time in a traditional shade of glossy khaki — was paired with cargo pants and echoed the embedded straps in the jacket by placing them on the ruched legs as well. Harmony came when the following look, this time womenswear, saw the iconic bomber jacket shape turned into a puffy dress of technical sorts, while on the flipside, the next look, now menswear again, comprised a cream apron bib adorned with pearl detailing, sitting atop a white tee and floral trousers, again bringing us soft-meets-hard fashions.
White T-shirts were never just simple, with one growing a three-dimensional sculpture on its front. Rocha’s florals decorated a satin cream coat that conjured thoughts of Maison Margiela’s duvet coat as its lapels flapped carelessly, while men’s tailoring kept things rather traditional and clean-cut in black.
It wasn’t just a promising effort from Rocha; her menswear collection, now in its fullest form to date, was enough to immediately catapult the designer into this relatively untapped world for her. References to Lee Alexander Mcqueen and a couture-inspired finale consisting of a white bridal ensemble wrapped up the masterpiece show.
Speaking on the collection, Rocha said that her harnesses were a reference to the concept of physically harnessing her emotions over the last two years. On her menswear, she said:
“I’m really proud to [deliver] menswear, I felt like I could work on this beautiful masculinity. It’s justification for everything I’ve done in the last ten years, what that role plays and how it crosses over between the two — and I really wanted to explore that within masculinity.”
For more must-see shows, check out the big-winning collection from JW Anderson.