Inspired by a Irish folk tradition, the designer's Spring/Summer 2020 collection features her signature Victorian ruffles with a rambunctious twist.
On the day after Christmas in Ireland, young boys known as the Wren Boys hunt the small bird to bring good luck for the New Year, knocking on doors to sing in hopes of getting money from the homeowners. The tradition that is little known beyond Ireland’s borders was the starting point for Simone Rocha’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection. The Irish fashion designer picked an appropriate venue for her show: a dilapidated Victorian theater that was restored and recently reopened in London’s Alexandra Palace. Just like the homes in Ireland where the Wren Boys would sing for money, the theater has faded walls. “I want it to feel like they are coming to knock down doors….come in and parade in a circle,” said Rocha, in the post-release.
Rocha even incorporated Irish characters into the diverse cast who walked the show, including Irish actresses Olwen Fouéré, Jessie Buckley, Simone Kirby, Charlene McKenna, Valene Kane, Tia Bannon, and Lesley Manville. The designer wanted to translate the rambunctiousness of the Wren Boys into her new collection, creating a masculine-meets-feminine aesthetic. She turned the look of peeling wallpaper on the Victorian homes into elegant prints on ruffled white dresses. Rochas used hay and raffia, macraméd by hand into aprons, as harnesses and dresses that were layered over delicate embroidered tulle and lace pieces. Broderie Anglaise daisies and Mulberry plants were embroidered onto organza, while feather-like accoutrements decorated dresses, an ode to the bird that serves as the namesake of the Irish Wren Boys. Rochas’s signature exaggerated proportions were seen throughout, accompanied by sharp tailoring and an infinite amount of ruffles.
For Rocha’s finale, her bold yet dainty women paraded around in a circle, walking ever so defiantly, just as Rocha wanted—an Irish holiday tradition, but make it fashion.