Critical Shopper: There’s Nothing to Fear at Simone Rocha


Ms. Rocha’s clothes are airy and all frills. She takes the girliest accents (bows, ruffles, puffy sleeves — all pretty high on my list of fashion fears) and reclaims them. Up close, her fabrications are enchanting: Most pieces in the store that come in chiffon, gabardine or cotton poplin also come in tulle in the same cut. It’s as if each of the designer’s ideas came to her first as a ghost.

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Ms. Rocha introduced her namesake label in 2010, right after graduating from Central Saint Martins in London.

Credit
Jennifer S. Altman for The New York Times

Simone Rocha introduced her namesake label in 2010, right after graduating from Central Saint Martins in London. In 2015, she opened a store there, and in 2016, she won the British Fashion Council’s women’s wear designer of the year award. A cute fact: Ms. Rocha’s father, the fashion designer John Rocha, won the same award in 1993. The two designed the interior of the store together.

Molding that lines the wall is shaped like budded roses, designed by Ms. Rocha herself. Looking at her designs, you would think her name means rose, but in fact it is Portuguese for “rock.” Audrey and I set ourselves down a little too hard on the white benches: The stone is so soft it looks plush.

Photo

Up close, Ms. Rocha’s fabrications are enchanting.

Credit
Jennifer S. Altman for The New York Times

Also solid: the enormous polished onyx slab that serves as the counter at the back of the store.

I open the dressing room door and am confronted with a paper chair. It’s carved, with exposed holes like stacked cardboard viewed from the side. It looks a lot like … honeycomb. The saleswoman quickly comes in and takes the chair out. “It’s so light!” she says.

I try on a black skirt with ruffles spiraling down from the waist like M. C. Escher stairs ($1,250). By the bottom, they slump off, draping in strips. An apathetic ruffle is one of the funnier wordless jokes that can be made.

On top, I try a boxy little shirt with oversize half-cap sleeves that rest like an abbreviated cape ($1,250).

“What happens if you flap like a bird?” Audrey asks from the stone bench.

She tries on a pair of gray Prince of Wales checked pants ($900), with ruffles looping down the thighs where punk suspenders might hang. I decide to tackle a fashion fear: poof sleeves. On the hanger, the nude sheer trench looks as if its sleeves are exaggerated and flouncy. On, it’s clear they’re cut to cup the shoulders, and the effect of the extra fabric is that of a hugging shawl built into the construction ($1,280). Nothing to fear here, nor in a black-and-red-checkered chiffon dress with a ruffled bib ($2,350).

We circle the jewelry set out on cushions on the Perspex display columns. Simone Rocha’s jewelry is more affordable than her clothes (though I think it’s cool she hasn’t succumbed to setting out a stack of T-shirts; cotton poplin and earrings under $1,000 was her retail compromise). Audrey tries on a magnetic single earring; two crystal globs snap onto her ear from either side ($520). It looks as if she has grown her own rock candy.

I try a single smooth stone strung on a long chain ($175). It’s lovely, almost long enough to dangle in front of my heart, now beating regularly. I take a deep breath.

Correction: March 13, 2017

An earlier version of this article misstated Simone Rocha’s nationality. She is Irish, not British.

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