Simone Rocha might be new to the London Fashion Week schedule, where she’s showing this season as part of Fashion East, but her designs already have begun making waves among retailers. When Rocha, who holds a master’s degree from Central Saint Martins, showed her graduate collection in February, Topshop immediately snapped up her ethereal tulle headdresses. The retailer will produce and sell the pieces in its London flagship starting next month.
Fashion talent runs in Rocha’s family: She’s the daughter of the Hong Kong-born, Ireland-based designer John Rocha.
“I think it’s inevitable to have a family signature. We’re both really interested in fabric and how it can enhance a silhouette,” said Rocha of her father’s and her own designs. “But there’s a different identity — I’m a woman and he’s a man, and I’m a lot younger.”
Rocha, who was born in Ireland but is now based in London, said her spring collection is “a development,” from her master’s degree collection, which juxtaposed clean, tailored black skirts and tuxedo jackets with the whimsical, tulle headdresses and chiffon panels sewn into shirts and dresses.
“I’m working with a lot of washed cottons, washed habotai silk and papery, stiff cottons,” said Rocha. Her inspirations came from Francis Bacon’s portraits, and the Chinese tradition of wearing white as mourning dress — the result of a recent visit to her grandfather’s grave in Hong Kong.
— Nina Jones
Although Felicity Brown will make her debut at London Fashion Week as part of Fashion East, she’s no neophyte. The designer has worked on the design teams at Alberta Ferretti, Loewe, Mulberry and Lanvin since she graduated from the Royal College of Art’s master’s program in fashion in 2002.
She first produced a collection under her own name for fall 2010: It was filled with ruffled cocktail dresses that were made from hand-dyed silks in hues of blue, pink and yellow. That collection, which she showed in London, was picked up by Liberty, Corso Como and Barneys New York.
Lulu Kennedy, director and founder of Fashion East, said she was struck by the “highly romantic” feeling of Brown’s dresses.
“They are unashamedly feminine and I like the simplicity of that message,” added Kennedy. For her spring collection, Brown cited “butterflies, kimonos and the 1950s” among her inspirations, and said she sees her muse as “a leading lady in an old black-and-white film. My ideal customer shares this elegance. She’s natural and embraces fabric.”
— Philippa Brangam
Designers Tamara and Natasha Surguladze are back on the runway this season after a three-year hiatus, and ready to mark a decade in the fashion business. The Georgian-born identical twins, who continued to turn out collections over the past three years, are back in force with a pop-up shop in Mayfair, plans to open a stand-alone store and a string of collaborations in the pipeline.
“We wanted to take a break from showing in order to concentrate on the financial side of the business,” said Natasha. “Now we’re back with a new team, growing sales and a better structure — we’re no longer a small London label.”
The pop-up store stocks the fall collection at 33 Bruton Place and will remain open until the end of September.
Natasha added there are plans to open a permanent London store, also in Mayfair, next year. The designers, who are backed by private investors, also are preparing a series of 10 collaborations to mark the anniversary. The first is a Ballets Russes-inspired T-shirt that will coincide with the V&A’s upcoming show, “Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909-1929.” There are also footwear and accessories collaborations planned.
For spring, their theme is “Maharaja Meets the English Gentleman,” and the designers are planning a salon-style show. The collection features silk jacquards, printed silks and soft colors such as beige and slate gray.
— Samantha Conti
Although Alison Clemency-Buddenhagen launched her own line three seasons ago and counts Harvey Nichols in London and Montaigne Market in Paris among her retail accounts, she is a newcomer to London Fashion Week. The Yorkshire-born designer’s fall collection was full of embellished chiffon dresses, butter-soft leather jackets and chic jackets, and for spring, Clemency-Buddenhagen said she was inspired by the structure of the dome homes found in California in the Sixties. That idea, she said, will translate into “3-D-shaped sleeves and collars.” Short hemlines and sharp, angular necklines also will feature, alongside washed sanded silk and leather dresses and turquoise separates.
Clemency-Buddenhagen, a graduate of Central Saint Martins BA Honors program who has worked for designers including Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein and Burberry, tapped the photographer Rankin to help with her spring presentation. He’s created a short film and shot stills of the looks, which will be presented in her show space in the Portico Rooms at Somerset House.
— Yety Akinola
Georgian-born David Koma is just 24, but he’s already gaining a pop-star following, with clients including Beyoncé Knowles, Lady Gaga and Alicia Keys. Most recently, he designed a power mesh and metallic chain dress for Kylie Minogue’s latest video, and the black-and-gold body-conscious dress for her appearance last month on “America’s Got Talent.”
Known for his sculptural, embellished statement pieces and strong architectural shapes, Koma is planning a dramatic collection that features contrasting textures for spring. “It’s basically the idea of a swan and a python together,” he said. “A combination of thin wool and light organza chiffons and silks — and python leather. It’s quite a mixed-up collection.”
Koma said he also was inspired by Tchaikovsky’s music and the Russian ballet, and “the graphic lines and shadows” in the works of artist Fernand Léger.
Koma’s designs are available at Harrods and Browns Focus, as well as Joyce in Hong Kong and LuisaViaRoma in Florence.— S.C.