John Rocha F/W2014 READY-TO-WEAR

February 20, 2014 10:10 AM

“The arsonist was a friend of mine,” I heard a girl with a sideways ponytail and six-inch platform shoes say, in a soft Scandinavian accent, whilst waiting in the queue for the John Rocha show. I’m not exactly superstitious or easily swayed by other’s opinions, but I like to listen to the crowd before and after seeing a show. I find that sometimes people’s stories and reactions are far better at capturing the mood than written reviews, which can be the result of time deadlines or the burden of informing whilst also keeping an original voice.

It was raining as we were waiting outside, as it had done here in London for the last three days, and with those girl’s words in mind and my ticket in hand (printed black on thin off-white newspaper), I entered the show space at Somerset House. 

My first impression, before it all even began, was that it was a well-organized show because of the swiftness with which the crowd moved from the outside in. Next thing you know the lights went off. Music starts. Lights on.

I was lucky enough to be sat at the far side of the U-shaped catwalk, with my back to the archway through which the models entered so that, before I saw the first outfit, I got a good few seconds to absorb the soundtrack: moody, progressive rock, think of a re-vamped Interpol; very ecstatic and slow-building, with a bit of saddness. I then saw the first look — a beautiful black dahlia, head wrapped in layers of organza and body dripping in a crochet dress with tear-shaped patent leather teardrop leaves hanging from it — and it all merged together: the music, the weather, the clothes and the words from before.

The layering of soft fabrics which build volume and shape is something John Rocha excels at, but how the technique was used in this collection (over the top and with no reservations on oversized head- and neckpieces) gave birth to an underlying conceptual theme: that of concealing the body by using fabrics which are normally used to reveal: raffia lace, silk georgettes, chiffons, organza. If the color palette was quite subdued (a lot of black, garnet, forest green), it made up for it in technical execution. The outfits that stood out had entwined soft and hard fabrics, reflective and matte, crochet with lace and patent leathers.

The show’s fact sheet talks of dusky Icelandic skies and Pierre Soulages as inspiration, but there were other things there which I couldn’t help crossing my mind whilst watching: The Red Queen in Lewis Carroll’s stories and even nudges to Lolita street fashions, although the latter might have just been the knee-length socks which served the subtle purpose of keeping the longer dresses looking young.

Unsurprisingly, the “bride” at the end was also wearing black and then the show was over and I was back out in the rain thinking of ways to sum it all up, and my mind jumped back to the Scandinavian girl from before and how I found her words darkly romantic, in a soft rock kind of way. And that was John Rocha’s woman: a soft rock Lolita, decorative and feminine, but strong.

 

 

WRITTEN BY: CASPER FITZHUE

 

 

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