Simone Rocha's wrengirl romanticism
Simone Rocha's inspiration was obscure but her creations exceptionally illuminating, as she presented a particularly memorable collection in Alexandra Palace on Sunday evening in London.
Staged inside a totally decayed grand old theatre within Alexandra Palace, which was built on Muswell Hill, the highest overlooking London. The aged pine floorboards and raw space were the ideal juxtaposition to the clothes – an amalgam of haute romanticism, druid chic and posh punk. Everyone in London calls this rather wrecked structure Ally Pally, a term of endearment for a revered friend, which captures the reaction to this special collection.
Rocha’s starting point was the ancient Celtic tradition of Wren Day, when wrenboys hunt a mock wren, place it on a stick and dress up to celebrate in straw clothes, masks and circus eccentricity. They still celebrate Wren Day every year in Sandymount Green, a seaside suburb of Simone’s native Dublin. As wrens sing late into winter, they represent the old year, hence killing one stands for bringing in the new.
Though Rocha has a fertile imagination, she completely stretched the concept. She opened with some beautiful embroidered dresses in white and Delft blue, paired with slippers and sandals finished with punky spikes and faux cut-glass heels made of Perspex. The dresses were cut with leg of mutton sleeves, peaked shoulders and finished with artful layering and transparency.
However, Rocha’s wrengirls were anything but scary. Instead they were a beautiful amalgamation of asymmetrical trench coats, raw straw embroidery, endless ruffles and multiple strands of pearls. Strands of straw were even woven into the hair of some models in the cast, which featured a wide variety of ages and attitudes.
A phalanx of it girls - Paloma Faith, Lulu Guinness, Lauren Santo Domingo – a regiment of buyers and every editor of note in London made the one-hour trek north to this show, so highly is Rocha regarded.
With a fantastic soundtrack by DJ Frédéric Sanchez that included a mash-up of Flip Flops by Moving Elements, this felt like a very special moment. And, certainly, one third of the way into the 29-day international runway season, the most important collection we’ve seen so far.
Rocha earned a long, thunderous ovation, taking a delicate bow, before a horde of editors followed her backstage to congratulate her. Led, at a trot, by Anna Wintour.
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