Central Hall Westminster — a Methodist church with a giant domed ceiling, hulking organ boasting more than 3,700 pipes, and balconies rimming the central nave — could swallow up any number of fashion collections.
Simone Rocha’s held its own, and then some, seizing attention with its lustrous fabrics, intriguing volumes and delicate decoration, from jewels embedded in fuzzy slippers to little red ribbons tied to thumbs, or tacked under cheeks, making some models look like they were crying blood.
Rocha enlisted Irish folk band Lankum to perform live, and their droning uilleann pipes and plaintive lyrics cast a melancholy spell. Dressed in long white smocks or lacy T-shirts and pants, some models appeared to be sleepwalking through the carpeted space, their expressions suggesting a delicious dream in progress.
The clothes were beautiful and each outfit seemed to tell a story, from the opening black coat with red jewels encrusted around the bosom to the doll-like dresses with puffed sleeves and teacup skirts, some with lingerie details; others stuffed with balled-up straw. There were ballerinas and schoolyard bullies, all lost in their thoughts.
Rocha introduced menswear last season, and here it wove neatly into her narrative and her fashion aesthetic, which falls somewhere between ceremonial dress and luxury streetwear. Terrific bomber jackets and leather blousons mingled with cobweb sweaters and gossamer shirts.
An appealing sailor theme came through via the middy collars and neckerchiefs she layered on to navy pantsuits and black peacoats for him and her.
Backstage, Rocha said the collection’s jumping off point was Lughnasadh, the annual Irish harvest festival, and she researched its traditions, which include climbing mountains, ritual dances and feasting.
“I wanted it to feel really grounded, like it was from the earth,” she mused.
With its gleaming fabrics, including gold cloque, and the collection often felt more glitzy than earthy, strong on party dresses and evening clothes for emo introverts. Still, there were rough-hewn touches, including handbags tucked under the arm that resembled rough bundles of twine.