Fashion is art. When fashion is inspired by art something incredible happens… Simone Rocha’s Spring Summer 2017 collection for example.
This season the designer drew her inspiration from the works of her fellow countryman Irish artist Paul Henry and a fine art photographer Jackie Nickerson. Rocha discovered the timeless connection between Henry’s early 1900s paintings of Irish potato diggers and Nickerson’s Farm series of photographs depicting “astonishingly elegant and poignant” African farm workers. Simone Rocha gracefully translates the influences into her collection in the most exquisite of ways specific to the designer’s unique style.
The fabulously feminine dresses and coats are far from cloying, despite the frills and lantern sleeves, or vamp-ish, even though a number of models was finished in see-through tulle. Loose fitting, collapsing tailoring, voluminous forms, possibly inspired by Henry’s peasants, are made to convey the idea of hard working days, underpinned by the beauty looks of the models – braids and windswept flyaways sticking to as if sweaty au naturel faces.
Rocha reinterprets the elements seen on the photographs (Erina, 2000; Damiano Masamba, 1999; Selina, 2000; Paul, 1999) in a masterful play of delicate crafts: hand crochet scallop, macramé elastic, Broderie Anglaise, patchwork and deconstructed tulle and fine yarn knits. The eyelet lace motif also decorates the laser-cut slouchy leather bag, boots and rubber-like gloves.
While the line-up of pristine white looks opposes the idea of land work, it underlines the uniformity aspect of the job. The reds of gingham and tulle dresses are evocative of Henry’s strong colour schemes.
The bright floral embroidery is reminiscent of Nickerson’s Chipo, 1997; or might also signify the fruits of hard labour.
The element of plastic seen in the works of both artists has found its form in Rocha’s Lucite heels of the wellington-like boots and sandals, embellished oxfords and black and white flower embroidered raincoat, as well as statement mismatched earrings.
The prominent layering and knotting techniques bring to mind Jackie Nickerson’s Martha, 1997 and Monica, 1997, yet done in a more sophisticated and refined way.
Simone Rocha still keeps close to her roots with a British essence intact in heritage style plaid, utilitarian trench coats worn on one shoulder, oxfords and re-imagined wellington boots.
The collection showcases Rocha’s refreshing individuality and creativity that is not bound to the current trends or rules of fashion, which some designers tend to conform with to be safe. It’s clever, inventive and spirited, made for confident sensible modern women that find beauty in originality.
by Olga Permyakova
Photos: Courtesy of Simone Rocha