New Beginnings - Simone Rocha

Simone Rocha is the undeniably talented and innovative Irish-born designer who arrived on the British fashion scene just over five years ago. I'll never forget seeing the first collection and wanting it all, especially those Perspex shoes. Since then it's a must-see show, one I'm constantly excited about. This year is full of new beginnings for Simone; she's due to give birth to her first child any day now, a daughter. And her very first store opened on London's Mount Street in September. 

Simone Rocha's first shop: 93 Mount Street, London, W1K 2SY // The window sculpture is a collaboration between Simone Rocha and artist Janina Pedan

Simone has always been involved in the presentation of her collections within their retail environment. Her international stockists include Dover Street Market in London, Tokyo and New York, as well as Colette in Paris. The brand's window displays and decorative installations are usually designer/stockist collaborations. It's no surprise then that she wanted to add something more to the shopping experience in celebration of her new store. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, she published a fabulous book. 

Fashion, Photos and Flush Pink - The cover of Simone Rocha's AW15 photo book

This publication brings a whole new meaning to the fashion lookbook. A glimpse into the world of a designer's inspirations proves to be much more engaging than studio shots of a collection. We can see catwalk looks on sites such as the soon-to-be relaunched (2016) et al anyway. I'm intrigued to know if there will be a second one to accompany next season. More of these kinds of personal, tangible and covetable lookbooks would be a good way of keeping people engaged with the brand. It could be pretty special if this becomes a regular offering from Simone. 

When I picked up this beauty, I walked back to the Tube with a big smile on my face. I'm a bit of a paper geek. For those of us who love fashion and print, these kinds of publications really get us going. Particularly if they are limited edition with a print run of just 1,000. It's A2-size and comes in a branded transparent sleeve with 'signature Rocha pastel pink' type and a chunky rubber band. It's a hybrid poster-book publication. Ultimately - enough to drive any paper lover loopy.

What's inside?

It's a compendium of visuals that Rocha holds close to her heart - a book of inspiration created in collaboration with her friends. Colin Dodgson captures the spirit of her Autumn Winter 2015 collection worn by models Olympia Campbell, Madison Stubbington and Emelie Fredengren. Lots of wall space and hands (see pics above). Four more photographers each present a collection of visuals that have been integral to Rocha's creative process - many of which embrace her cultural heritage in some way or another. Some are based in Ireland where she grew up and others are taken in Hong Kong where her father's from. 

Here are my favourite two...

Pony Kids photographed by Perry Ogden

1. Perry Ogden's photographic series 'Pony Kids' was originally published in the similarly-named book by Aperture in 1999. Perry had been fascinated by a subcultural movement of young kids from the traveller community who would meet regularly at Dublin's Smithfield horse fair in the mid 1990s. So he took his Polaroid camera and 665 film to document it. The result - a stunning series of black and white portraits depicting the raw beauty of a moment that Ogden tapped into spectacularly. Each photo is taken against a white backdrop. Some of the subjects stand in groups, some alone, and others with ponies, birds or rabbits. The neutral backgrounds put them under a 'spotlight' and leave the rest of the scenario to the viewer's imagination. I want to see what else was going on at the fair and how people reacted to Ogden randomly setting up a makeshift studio.

Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010)

Be Calm, 2005. Drypoint on paper, 19.1 x 12.7cm Private Collection

In amongst the photographs, also by Eoin McLoughlin and Ross McDonnell, paintings from the private collection of Louise Bourgeois are thoughtfully interspersed. Just beautiful.  

Simone Rocha's first advertising campaign photographed by Jacob Lillis

Rocha's designs and everything she does surrounding the clothes is a personal expression. I love that there's zero product. - she hasn't succumbed to fashion campaign status quo.  

2. 'Flowers and Cars' photographed by Jacob Lillis came about because of a mutual fascination with flowers in places other than their natural habitat. It made me think of something Phoebe Philo, creative director of Celine, said in the latest issue of The Gentlewoman (No 12) magazine; "It brings a whole different personality to something when you place it somewhere new." There's something uplifting about this series - they're just flowers in cars but the juxtaposition works. It's as if you can imagine they're being transported to a better place where they will live forever. This particular set of visuals has been used as Rocha's first advertising campaign published in magazines including; Self ServiceThe Gentlewoman and Hot and Cool. Yet another new beginning for 2016. Long may they continue.