Watch Simone Rocha’s New Film Starring Samantha Morton and Patrick Gibson

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Simone Rocha Autumn/Winter 2023
Simone Rocha Autumn/Winter 2023Photography by Paul Phung

Exclusive: Featuring a cast of cult actors that walked in her Autumn/Winter 2023 show, Simone Rocha’s new short film centres on age-old Irish marriage rituals

If you have some of the most acclaimed cult actors of our times walking your runway, why not make a film with them? This was Simone Rocha’s thinking while staging her Autumn/Winter 2023 show in February this year, which featured actors like Samantha Morton (a favourite of directors including Andrea Arnold, Harmony Korine and Charlie Kaufman) and her daughter, the actress Esmé Creed-Miles, Patrick Gibson of Netflix sci-fi hit The OA, Aisling Franciosi of the cutthroat rape revenge drama The Nightingale, Olwen Fouéré of Robert Eggers’ The Northman and more. Despite their fame, no phone cameras were raised to snap photos of these actors as they strutted past – a world away from the viral celebrity cameos by Kim Kardashian and Nicole Kidman at Balenciaga couture, or Emma Corrin and Mia Goth at Miu Miu. Instead, Rocha chose these actors because they fit her own tastes and those of the brand perfectly; like her, most of them were Irish, and like the brand, they were of cult, independent fame, always opting for more interesting projects over vapid blockbusters.

Several months later, the brand has released a short black-and-white film shot in Central Hall Westminster – where the show took place – featuring many of these actors. Directed by Hugh Mulhern backstage before the show, the film centres on several old Irish rituals people practise to figure out who they should marry; there’s Fouéré peeling an apple with a knife, and Gibson, sat across from Toni O’Rourke, dropping beans in a jar of water (if they sink you should get married, but if only one sinks you shouldn’t get married, explains Mulhern).

The use of rituals in the film is fitting; the A/W23 collection drew primarily on the Irish harvest festival Lughnasadh, alongside Perry Ogden’s cult 1999 photo series Pony Kids – Rocha fondly calls them “the most engaging pictures, then and now”, while Ogden walked in the show and also appears in the film. “Lots of the actors [we cast] were Irish as this collection was really looking into my own Irish heritage and I wanted the casting to reflect that,” says Rocha, mentioning Franciosi and O’Rourke’s recent roles in God’s Creatures, a tense drama set in the west of Ireland. And although Morton is not Irish herself, Rocha couldn’t resist including her. I have always admired Samantha Morton – the independent films she’s made, the choices she’s made, she’s an independent icon,” she says. “She was so inspiring every moment together.”

As for the Lughnasadh festival, Rocha says: “I can smell the earth, hear the sounds, and I wanted to translate it all through those elements into this particular collection.” And what better way to translate her clothing on screen than via a stellar cast of actors, who can bring them to life in new ways? “I love making films with Eoin McLoughlin, my partner,“ says Rocha. “I love to tell stories and pluck at people’s emotions.”