Dispatches from London: Simone Rocha, Marques' Almeida & Ashish

Leisa Barnett reports

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GIF: Marques' Almeida, Ashish, Simone Rocha, s/s 2015 - IMAXTREE

‘That was very moving, wasn’t it? I actually had a little cry.’ Day five of the London shows, the unofficial Fashion Month half-way mark, and it’s fair to say that a little hysteria might be setting in - the above was overheard as the throng filtered out of Simone Rocha’s s/s 2015 show on the close of the Collections’ British leg. Though it wasn’t entirely unjustified. Set in the weighty surround of Saint Andrews Church, Holborn to a dramatic live organ score, Rocha presented a hauntingly beautiful vision of femininity.

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The disparate inspirations for the collection - ‘Hong Kong, Piña, wiggle and sorrow’ - conjoured a line-up of ghostly girls, perhaps drowned, their wet hair sheeting their faces in waves, or shot, blood-red flower embroidery blooming out of dead-white mesh dresses.

Strip away the spooky trappings, though, and this was another smash-hit offering from Rocha, packed with the killer (ahem) wear-forever pieces that she’s made her own and is really honing now: roomy dresses with pockets, trench coats (some in tulle and tipped with ‘fluff’, others with a sweet scalloped edging), a mesh skirt with white pannier hips that looked like angel wings. A red Oriental floral print section injected an element of lost celebration, with bags and gorgeous lace-up brogues to match - though when it comes to the shoes, we predict it’ll be those slides with the fluff edging that prove the hit.

IMAGE: Marques' Almeida, Ashish, Simone Rocha, s/s 2015 - IMAXTREE

Over at Marques' Almeida, the benches were punctuated – almost comically – with those humungous fun fur pieces that had stolen the a/w 2014 show. But there was no such explosion of happy brights on the catwalk this time. Quite the opposite, in fact. Designers Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida had been feeling introspective this season – in their notes, they cited the ‘dark, difficult poetry of PJ Harvey’s music’ as ‘the only tangible signpost’ in this, their most private, least-90s collection yet.

Cue black, and lots of it. As part of a new link-up with Swarovski it came hand-stitched with gobstopper crystals, or wrapped into halter-tops cut with handkerchief hems, and swinging in straps – like a pair of parachute pants Scary Spice might’ve commandeered in the band’s heyday – from the waist. Blue denim was there too, of course, really high turn-ups being the calling card for this collection along with frayed edges and wrap skirts so scant they hung totally open down one side. Colour crept in (politely, almost), via leather and mesh separates run through with dangly drawstrong laces and a series of flimsy silk patchwork dresses draped around the body like torn flags.

Ashish never met a sequin he didn’t like – but he is yearning for a life more ordinary this season. His s/s 2015 collection is all about rewriting everyday basics in sparkle – so classic fabrics, such as gingham and snake, are reimagined in sequins, along with wardrobe staples such the onesie, the jean jacket and the track pant (as introduced by the topless opening male model also sporting a diamanté choker that dripped down his pecs). The styling was as OTT as you’d hope – the shoes (part of the ASHISH x Topshop family) were totteringly high and finished with puff of marabou, while hair came shot through with colourful glittery strands.

But it was the sweatshirts and jeans emblazoned with the sequined faces of Generation Internet stars Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, Miley Cyrus and One Direction that we expect to be seeing a lot come February. Ashish might be king of his self-made niche, but he still has his finger on the pulse – albeit with tongue firmly in cheek. 

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