There is only one day to go before John Rocha shows his spring/summer 2013 collection to a full house of the industry’s most prominent editors and buyers – and he’s calm. So calm, in fact, that his relaxed demeanour is in stark contract to the chaos around him, as models rush in from various castings to attend the make-up test for the show. Catching him taking time out for a cigar, or two, isn’t unusual.
For anyone who has followed his career, it should come as no surprise that the 59 year-old Hong Kong-born designer feels “at ease” and “very comfortable in London.” After flying the flag for British design talent for the past 27 years, you would certainly hope so.
Since making his London Fashion Week debut in 1985, he’s come to epitomise London’s old guard. As such, a standing ovation as he takes his bow at the end of a show isn’t out of the ordinary. But there’s no time to be nostalgic. “It’s a tough business, because you’re only as good as your last show.” But, having had an exclusive preview of the collection, I can confirm it’s business as usual.
The Rocha signatures are all there, so expect summer brocades, silk organza and butterfly and piot lace, along with structured, dramatic dresses and silk pieces that “took one or two weeks for a seamstress to make.” But prepare to be surprised too. Inspired by his time spent in the vineyards of Château la Coste, this season sees the designer experiment with colours like lilac and mint, with a pink neon strapless dress set to close the show.
“It’s very difficult to have your own signature and keep people excited. At the end of the day, no matter who you are, people come to your show after New York and then go to Milan and Paris, by which point they have seen close to 1,000 shows. You don’t want to disappoint them.” Mission accomplished.
John Rocha’s flagship store is at 15a Dover Street, London, W1S 4LR.
What to expect at the shows:
With New York Fashion Week ending yesterday and London beginning today, fashion month is officially in full swing and there’s a lot to look forward to over the next five days.
Preen returns to the show schedule after six successful years showing in New York and to celebrate the opening of its first European store, Rag & Bone will make its London Fashion Week debut. The collections are set to be as strong as ever too:
■ Expect Mayan and Aztec aesthetics and organic hand woven textiles at Fyodor Golan (Lady Gaga’s a fan) and traditional modernism at Sass & Bide.
■ Daks creative director Sheila McKain-Waid says she was “inspired by abstract expressionist painters such as Robert Motherwell” and has also reworked the brand’s signature trench and parka jacket.
■ Issa London designer Daniella Helayel, a favourite among the Middletons, will present a collection with “prints inspired by the Garden of Eden and Noah’s Ark” on “vibrant underwater corals.”
■ David Koma has developed the “fresh, sharp and graphic” aesthetic that he’s become known for.