LONDON, United Kingdom — Goldsmiths’ Hall was illuminated by half a dozen chandeliers heavy with flickering candles which set the gilded 19th century interior to shimmering. Simone Rocha’s collections blossom against such backdrops. Her latest was no exception. Her women looked like they’d stepped out of history in their black lace and brocade, 18th century Constable necklines and leg’o’mutton sleeves. Rocha’s work is defined by a handful of recurring elements: tulle veiling, asymmetrical ruffles, bows and ribbons, the dramatic splash of a red rose embroidered on a black background. They can be fragile or they can be fierce. The determining factor is her own state of mind.
Her emotions have covered the waterfront over the past few seasons. This time, she talked about “little rebellions," a hint of punk in the tartan and “tied-up tailoring” that was more structured than it had ever been, and a tour de force trio of lacquered tweed coats. The boldness was refreshing, all the more so because Rocha didn’t feel pushed to blur the hard edges with any of her signature soft touches. There is so often something of the nursery about her work that it benefits from a hint of nightmare. Not only does that help to negate the historicism, but it also opens up the collection to a wider range of responses. I want more than a swoon.