London Fashion Week savoured two generations of Irish creative talent, consolidating our reputation for freshness and innovation.
Raw energy pulsed through John Rocha’s show at Somerset House on Saturday, testimony to his continued enthusiasm for Irish handcraft more than 30 years after he moved here from Hong Kong.
Rocha’s new collections takes crochet and handcraft skills through a mesmerising range of fabrics and talents, from fine metallic yarns and uncombed wools to loops of leather, tassels of silk and wondrously into a new chapter of textural magic in the medium of raffia twine, a natural fibre that weaves like a dream into cocoon-shaped dresses that take one woman four weeks to make.
Less than 24 hours later, London’s finest stood to applaud John’s daughter Simone (25) as she rolled out her first solo show for Spring/Summer 2012, her third collection since graduating from Central St Martins.
Apart from the identifiable surname, father and daughter Rocha share many design aesthetics including a genius eye for different fabrications and an intrigue with the contrasts of hard versus soft, delivered through a palette of blacks, neutrals and occasional splashes of colour.
But Rocha Junior is more than a chip off the old block - she oozes originality and this season she expertly used tulles and cottons – and it was her decision to contrast density and delicacy through the use of rubber, plastics, lace and embroidery that impressed the most.
Simone, who has already scored high street success with a collection for Topshop, excited the fashion weary by creating new surfaces and trapping textures inside each other.
She re-worked basics like tops and skirts by using transparent textiles to encase panelled lace and vintage embroidery she found in the south of France.
But while Simone’s silhouettes were fragile and slim, separates worn over her signature Perspex-heeled brogues, her father’s clothes were voluminous and dramatically layered.
Both father and daughter employed the considerable catwalk talents of teenage Dublin model Danielle Winkworth.
John’s show was pure theatre and top Australian model Abbey Lee Kershaw opened the show in a black raffia dress followed by a retinue of blonde models in bulbous-layered chiffons and pleated silk chiffons.
Backstage later, enthusiastic angler John Rocha explained how he was inspired on a fishing trip to the Amazon where he saw the Brazilian tribes use local materials to make their clothing. Raffia head dresses on wire frames added to the tribal look.
While John Rocha’s exclusive designs run to four figures, he has a wider audience with Waterford Crystal. He also confirmed confirmed that he will be launching a new range of interior accessories, including mirrors and lamps, for the company in New York this winter.