Speaking in the 20th anniversary issue of AnOther Magazine, the designer exalts Ireland, her island
This article is taken from the Spring/Summer 2021 issue of AnOther Magazine. To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we are making the issue free and available digitally for a limited time only to all our readers wherever you are in the world. Sign up here.
“I’ve never felt more marooned on an island than now, and this is not my island. Ireland, my island, is across the water. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, the people, the smell – of the wet ground, of hops – the sense of humour but also the narratives that come from the craft, the techniques and the history. My Great-Uncle Barney passed away a few days ago and the funeral tradition of Ireland is so amazing. It’s such a moment of coming together, of family. It’s always uplifting and ceremonial. All the mirrors are covered up so the soul can’t leave the body and escape and, of course, there’s a corpse in the living room. But there are always kids running around, there’s lots of tea, cold sandwiches, and it’s nice. These ceremonies are so normal, really homely, really domestic. That’s what I find myself thinking about a lot right now – the normality and the intimacy of it. I always find that kind of storytelling really interesting, how the everyday can evoke different emotions in everybody.”
Simone Rocha’s namesake brand has been ceremonial since the off, when she presented her MA collection at Central Saint Martins in 2010, inspired by the funeral garb of the Aran Islands, just off the west coast of Ireland. Her collections since have spanned ceremonies of life – funereal, but also bridal and baptismal – buoyed by cotton petticoats, lace veils, ruffled silks and pearl-studded smocks and the gilded grandeur of show venues such as the Georgian mansion Lancaster House, in central London. But since the Spring/Summer 2021 collection was designed during an unpredictable year, it too was unlike any other, with each garment hand-embroidered in the respective homes of Rocha’s design team. “This collection didn’t feel like a narrative of my personal experience, like it usually would,” Rocha explains. “It was more. This is the story that we wove together – a tapestry reflecting this time.”