• Text Kinza Shenn
  • 19th September 2016

True grit

“Hard working days”. So read the show notes, written in verse, that decorated the benches of Southwark Cathedral before Simone Rocha’s spring/summer 2017 showcase. It reiterated her especially sentimental way of assembling fragmented thoughts and allusions in past collections.

For this season, they told us Rocha was looking at Paul Henry’s Potato Diggers (1912), a painting of peasants labouring in the west of Ireland, and contemporary photographer Jackie Nickerson’s Farm (2002), a series of portraiture of agrarian culture in sub Saharan Africa. Like these works, Rocha’s collection poignantly showed the dignity and empowered beauty of the daily grind. Following on from last season, the diaphenous Lolita silhouettes were presented in deliberate disorder. Sagging bundles of cotton poplin, ravished Broderie Angalise, torn scalloped hems, windswept shoulders hanging off the body; “collapsed tailoring” as she described. The clothes were pretty, as ever, but a far cry from any notions of simpering coquettishness. These were coded in strength, grit, determination.