She called her collection ‘Respect Your Elders’ - an apt title considering it was inspired by her two grandmothers: her late Irish grandmother, Margaret Gleeson, and her Chinese grandmother, Cecelia Rocha, two women who had a great appetite for looking fantastically co-ordinated and pulled together in neat dresses, twinsets and smart coats.
‘They’re really fabulous women, so inspiring; they both had seven children each and they both always managed to turn themselves out, immaculate, they always looked really well-to-do,’ she said in her studio, a month before, when she was working on her autumn / winter 2013 collection.
Today her grannies were there, in spirit at least, from the prim skirt suits to the prettiest of pale lace dresses gathered over one hip and to the wide cropped trousers and neat coats – subverted, of course, in shiny black patent leather and ‘Pepto Bismol’ pink.
You might imagine this collection, based on two old ladies, to look retro. But this is Rocha’s great skill, being able to translate these personal stories – all of her collections are autobiographical – into clothes that pulse with modernity and resonate with hip young girls. Chloe Moretz and Alexa Chung are both great fans of her work.
She does this via the fabrics – leopard spotted faux fur, wild mohair in ‘hatchling yellow’, gleaming patent leather and ‘tinsel’ tweeds – and also in the way it’s all put together with her trademark clunky Perspex-soled shoes, developed this season with a new higher chunky heel style in velvet, surely the new footwear must-have. As will the new framed ‘granny’ bags – bags being her latest focus.
Rocha is 26, but this collection – as with her last two – showed maturity beyond her years. She’s a fledgling on the London scene, (her first solo show at London Fashion Week was in September 2011), but then to call her a ‘young’ designer is hardly true when you consider she has been learning the craft since she was knee-high.
As the buying director of Bloomingdales, Stephanie Solomon gushed backstage, ‘You totally blew me away. It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen talent like this… We’ll make a star of you.’