NEW YEAR’S FEAST: Simone Rocha might not have been able to attend her big Chinese New Year family celebration in Hong Kong, but she brought a taste of the festive spirit to London.
As she started her two-week residency at Matchesfashion.com’s town house at 5 Carlos Place, Rocha took the opportunity to celebrate with her fashion audience and shared some of her favorite Chinese traditions.
“My dad is in Hong Kong at the moment celebrating with my whole family. They are having a very big celebration in my auntie’s apartment. We usually have a Chinese meal together and give each other lucky pocket money,” said Rocha, whose father is the designer John Rocha.
“Unfortunately because my show is a week away, we now usually bring a big Chinese meal into the studio. This is a treat tonight — eating and sharing is the big focus for us.”
For the occasion, Rocha dressed the garden at Carlos Place with traditional red lanterns and created an installation that replicates the Chinese tradition of tying lucky pocket money on trees.
She also filled the town house’s ground-floor space with pieces from her Chinese-inspired spring collection and her popular hair accessories, which included pieces made exclusively for Matchesfashion, such as red crystal and pearl slides and striking red floral headbands, riffing on the Chinese tradition of wearing something red to celebrate the new year.
“Accessories are now quite a large part of my business and something that I love, because for one, they’re an extension of the collection and reflect the embellishments from each season’s collection. So they’re always evolving,” said the designer. “It’s also something that’s ageless and size-less and a great introduction to my world. They have really taken off.”
Rocha has worked on a different type of collaboration for the occasion: She joined forces with the Taiwanese restaurant and teahouse Xu to create the buffet for the evening, which included aubergine steamed buns, mushroom dumplings, tea jellies and a longevity cake.
“Xu is this beautiful dumpling teahouse in Soho and they make these really playful experimental pieces. We have been collaborating on jellies and on interpreting my embellishments into baked buns. It’s been really fun — and different — to collaborate on a baked good,” she added.
Xu will also take over the café in Carlos Place’s attic until Feb. 9, to coincide with Rocha’s residency.
For Rocha, who has her own store on nearby Mount Street, collaborating with retailers on these types of experiences continues to be of value, she said. New customers are able to discover her world at Carlos Place while others can visit her store for more selection.
“Even though we have our own stores, on Mount Street, which is very close by, and on Wooster Street in New York, my relationship with retailers is still incredibly important. They give you access to a customer who is beyond just the Simone Rocha customer and allow them to see part of my world,” said the designer.
She added that she is in full flow with preparations for her fall show, which is taking place on Feb. 16 during London Fashion Week and will put the spotlight on one of her longtime muses, Louise Bourgeois.
“Our invitation shows an image of an original Louise Bourgeois artwork and her fabric works, and we’ve collaborated with the Easton Foundation [a charitable organization set up by Bourgeois in the Eighties] for the show. She’s a huge influence, so it’s very exciting to now be officially collaborating this way.”