LONDON, United Kingdom — Pregnancy’s effect on female fashion designers is a subject worthy of a thesis. And, Simone Rocha, now seven months into her first pregnancy, would have to be central to the research. “I feel so alien in my own body,” she said after her show tonight. “It’s made me look at things in a different way. I’m attracted to everything I can’t do.” And that was actually a wonderful position for her to start from, because it trimmed and intensified her signatures.
The collection was born in Kyoto, so soon after she conceived that she spent the entire trip in a confused fog, which was probably perfect considering that she was careering between the spirituality of moss and bamboo forests and the soft white underbelly of seedy saké bars. That duality fed into the collection, from the first look, which defiled the purity of an admittedly sheer schoolgirl dress in pretty pink with a black lace bandolier. It established the essential tension that defined the show: propriety unhinged, spectacularly so in the virginal white dresses caged in woven silicon straps. “Sticky, like the seedy bars we went to,” said Simone. So, no surprise at all that an influence on the collection was the Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki — notorious for his bondage art.
The fetishist essence of Araki’s work was most evident in proper dresses cut from neoprene, strapped across the torso, droopily bowed on the shoulder. “Sad bows”, said Rocha, “because I feel so weird.” But if it was her pregnancy that perversely made her draw her clothes into the body and accentuate the torso with latticework and those straps, then all power to it. It was Rocha’s best collection to date.