When we last saw Simone Rocha last September, she was at that stage of pregnancy where one knew she was not, could not be comfortable. Obviously, the child is here now, and though Rocha did not put hers on display as some other designers have done, it was obvious in reading through her designer’s notes that she is enduring the trials of being a new mother. Mentions of baptism and birth are followed by, “falling apart at the seams.” Talk of tulle and tweed and embellished breasts ends with, ‘I need rest.” The final line not only describes this collection, but, one would imagine, a synopsis of the mother’s daily activities: “swaddled, wrapping, enveloping, smothering, mothering.”
So it is, armed with this insight to how her personal life inspires her fashion, we see styling coming down the runway that is at times large with multiple layers of fabrics and even an asymmetrical use of texture blocking. At other times, we get an almost Puritan servant’s dress that harkens back to nannies of the 17th century. There are layers of sheer embroidery over ancient tweed patterns and coats with frayed edges. Even the hairstyles are reminiscent of that harried mother who hasn’t had time for a shower, let alone trying to do anything with her hair. Huge tears in the fabric deconstruct looks, stripping away every hint of glamour to the point that I wouldn’t have been surprised had Rocha sent a model down the runway with a lit cigarette; some of the models certainly looked as though they could use that or a stiff drink, not to mention maybe some help with dirty nappies.
At the same time, there are several pieces done in sheer tulle and large-holed crochet that infer a more formal, put-together, existence. Many of the black pieces in the collection are ready for next fall’s parties or celebrations of various kind. Layers of tulle take the place of tweed, giving dresses the same sense of fullness, showing how much a change in fabric can affect both one’s mood and appearance. Rocha ends that set, though, with a knotted pink overcoat that is reminiscent of a worn housecoat. Even despite all the touches of glamour, we never lose the feeling that the person wearing these clothes could use a nap. Now.
Every mother is likely to find pieces in this collection with which she can identify. There are times when one is adversely aware of what giving birth has done to one’s body and there are not enough layers available to cover all that a new mother may want to hide. Then, there are other times one needs to dress up a little, get out of the house, spend some time with people who can actually converse in tones that are understandable. Forced asymmetry demonstrates both the interrupted dishevelment of caring for an infant while also creatively re-arranging silhouettes into something new and beautiful.
What Simone Rocha gives us in this collection is a different kind of femininity, one based in the realities of a woman’s life, trying to juggle both being a parent and having a career and the complete exhaustion that comes with self-doubt and wondering if one will ever get everything right. The look takes glamour in a very different direction where spit up is what decorates one’s smock and baby wipes fill one’s pockets. There are few women in the world who can’t identify with this aesthetic. With such a strong identity, there is no way this collection isn’t a best seller.