chloë sevigny joins iconic 90s and 00s faces for simone rocha’s cross-generational celebration of womanhood
Alongside today’s catwalk regulars of Adut Akech, Sara Grace Wallerstedt, and Fran Summers, Simone Rocha broadened her spectrum of womanhood as Kirsten Owen, Jeny Howorth, Jade Parfitt, Lily Cole, and Lindsey Wixson took centre stage.
“We were talking about the casting for weeks, how it was all about the body,” Simone Rocha explained moments after a cross-generational celebration of female empowerment that saw iconic 90s and 00s faces — Chloë Sevigny, Kristen Owen, Jeny Howorth, Lily Cole and Lindsey Wixson — walk alongside catwalk regular and breakout faces alike. From the moment Argentinian sculptor Conie Vallese opened the show through to Sevigny’s first ever LFW catwalk cameo and Lindsey Wixson’s closing look, the Dublin-born, London-based designer broadened her off-kilter beauty across her widest spectrum of womanhood to date. “Once we saw the women in the clothes we were surprised by how they transported them, we were knocked off of our feet.”
“Almost all of these women are are personal friends,” Rocha added, and we we left with the sense that any that aren’t part of the extended family already, soon will be — the world of Simone Rocha is an inviting and welcoming one. “Lily and Chloë are friends who are really wonderful, inspiring writers and directors in their own rights,” the designer said. “I said ‘I’m doing a collection that’s all about intimacy, would you be interested?’ and they said they’d love to.” Well, who could turn down wearing one of Rocha’s carefully crafted, intimately intricate creations? So Sevigny made her LFW debut and Cole made her comeback after a five-year hiatus. As friends, muses, and like-minded creatives accepted her casting call, this show provided a powerful demonstration that Simone Rocha can be worn by anyone. Fine, fabulous, and fierce, this was a refreshing demonstration of both democracy of dress, inclusive identities, and female empowerment.
“This collection was driven by ideas of intimacy, privacy, security and femininity,” Simone Rocha explained. It was, in part, a reaction to her deeply personal spring/summer 19 collection that saw her delve deeper than ever before into her dual Chinese-Irish heritage and share intimate insights into the inner workings of family traditions. “Every season is so intensely emotional but after last season, which was about my family, I felt wrecked explaining everything up-to and including my auntie’s eating habits, so I instantly began looking at this idea of privacy because I did feel overexposed, which is of course my own fault because I did a collection like that,” she explained with a giggle.
As she herself felt overexposed, she began to consider photography that exposed female subjects and challenged the concept of consent, particularly drawn to Miroslav Tichy who documented thousands of surreptitious pictures of women in his hometown of Kyjov in the Czech Republic, using homemade cameras. “Although deeply problematic, this work gave me an insight into the human form and that’s where many of the shapes evolved from,” she confessed. Throughout, as underwear fused with outerwear, Rocha used her chosen medium of see-through organza, look-at-me embroidered tulle and for-your-eyes-only lace to playfully challenge the idea of the woman as an object of desire, from multiple perspectives. At a time with President “Grab them by the pussy” Trump in the White House, Brett Kavanaugh’s sitting on the Supreme Court and archaic MPs here in Britain blocking bills that protect women's bodies, it provided a powerful ‘fuck you’ to the male-run world of today and hinted at a brave new female-powered future.
From the murky, unfamiliar ground of Tichy, Rocha returned to an artist that has long fascinated her, the boundary-pushing Louise Bourgeois. From her label’s inception, Rocha has celebrated Bourgeois’ love for, and mastery of, tapestry and matched her ability to stitch harmonious elements together. “Here, I was also drawn to the intimacy of her fabric works, which were the tapestries made from her own clothes. I was inspired by how she put her personal self into the work,” she continued. Mirroring Bourgeois, Rocha placed her lens over the patchwork of feminine forces that make up the extended Simone Rocha family. And what a family.