Simone Rocha takes over DSM with a pagan-inspired installation
The designer explores the customs of her homeland, in particular the Irish tradition of wrenboys, for SS20.
Courtesy of Dover Street Market
Looking at the recent collections from some of the London’s brightest designers, it increasingly seems they’re seeking respite from the ceaseless urban grind, and finding solace in the primal harmonies of folkloric tradition.
Leading the field here is Simone Rocha, whose SS20 collection drew upon the wintry rites of her native Ireland. Of course, creating clothes that occupy a space beyond the stultifying grasp of the everyday is a well-honed knack of the designer’s -- delicate floats of crochet and tulle connote an almost fairytale femininity, often haunted by faint, ghostly darkness.
For SS20, Simone explored Wren Day, and the custom that saw "wrenboys" across Ireland go singing door-to-door each December 26. “On St. Stephen's Day in Ireland, the tradition was to hunt the wren birds... this has evolved into knocking on doors and singing songs, looking for money,” explains Simone, “but the wrenboys would be dressed up in suits made of straw, playing music and dancing in a circle.”
In the collection itself, the tradition informs the raffia braid details and fringe, offering a rugged counterpoint to the delicacy of the embroideries, lacework and Delft pottery-inspired prints. “I translated the straw into garments caging some of the dresses, as well as weaving it into macramé harnesses as armour on the looks,” the designer explains. “I wanted to create a rough and raw texture against the fragility of the tulles, organza and cottons to build a tension of contrast.”
To further develop the association between the clothes and the Wren Day tradition, Simone has collaborated with set designer Janina Pedan on an installation at Dover Street Market. Unveiled just ahead of the designer’s forthcoming show this Sunday, it provides an immersive insight into this season’s inspiration. “The installation reflects the masks and hats that would be worn when hunting the wren, but also they almost feel like cages, or the nests of the birds,” she says. “They also reflect the round that the wrenboys would dance in.”
Accompanying the installation is a limited edition zine, available exclusively at DSM’s Haymarket location and Simone Rocha stores. Photographed by Ben Toms and styled by Robbie Spencer, the images convey the sombre ethereality that’s earned such an avid cult following for the brand.
Photography Ben Toms
Styling Robbie Spencer
MUA Thomas De Kluyver