Scan John Rocha's collections for the past few years and a few preoccupations assert themselves. His is a romantic spirit that tends to the darkly poetic, and he expresses it in extravagant volumes and fabrications. Then, as much as it seems familiar when he trots it out one more time, the penny suddenly drops: This is bloody beautiful!
With his flowing gray locks and Zen mien, Rocha would be ideally cast as some kind of philosopher king of fashion. That impression was certainly helped when he talked about this collection's genesis in his frequent trips to Iceland to fish for salmon (purely for sport—he returns the fish to the sea) and his love of the work of French artist Pierre Soulages, "the painter of black."
Organic and dark—that said it all, really. The immediate impression was dictated by the huge, gorgeous hats, ruffles, and corsages Rocha sculpted from organza. They reflected his interest in the pure forms of nature. Then nature insinuated itself in other ways: forest greens, floral appliqués, the fairy-tale shimmer of the glaze on a tiered lace skirt. Nature is messy, not ordered, so there was a charming déshabillé quality in Rocha's tattered tweeds and lacquered raffia lace. The first and last looks featured panels of fabric patchworked together with a crust of crochet as dark and glossy as ant's eggs. That sense of sophisticated handwork matched to something intangibly primal might be the essence of Rocha's work. And it seems to have rubbed off on his kids Simone, who'll show on the last day of London's fashion calendar, and Max, who clearly loves a hard-rockin' geetar sound, if his music for today's show was any indication.