Waiting for the Simone Rocha to start in the nave of St. Andrews Church, a voice from the camera pit suddenly boomed out a fragment of 'Ave Maria'-- and then tailed away, embarrassed, as the photographers and audience collapsed into giggles.
The mix of reverence, tradition and laughter was the perfect keynote for Rocha's latest show. It built on her trademark wistful fabrics and boyishly feminine silhouettes. But it was quieter -- in color and shape -- than her previous collections, with an emphasis on just-below-knee-length shapes, and a palette dominated by white, black, nude and flame red.
That sombre quietness allowed Rocha's construction greater visibility than usual: under the runway lights, the delicate boning of tulle coats and dresses, and the surreal sheaves of fine hair which fringed hemlines and footwear, had a new prominence. And without the fluorescent colors and evocatively childish details, a new sense emerged that she might -- after all -- be designing for women as well as for girls.
Rocha's label is still, to a large degree, a family affair: mother Odette helps on the management side, and brother Max curated the soundtrack of Hammer-horror organ strains and stuttering drum beats. And father John (who retired from London's schedule earlier this year) watched proudly from the front row, as Simone continues to evolve a language which both continues and challenges the ethereally mundane Irish aesthetic he established decades ago.
Today felt more about continuity than challenge: the clumps of crochet and blossom-embroidered sheers that were spattered through the collection were intriguingly reminiscent of his aesthetic in recent years -- as were the gracefully drooping necklines and tulle veils. It was still identifiably, indubitably, a Simone Rocha collection: it just reiterated (quietly) that she is very much her father's daughter.