A fresh talent delivering on its early promise - and then some - is one of the most exciting and uplifting things London fashion can offer. After all, it's seldom you see a show in New York, Paris or Milan that can genuinely be described as a breakthrough. Last season, Simone Rocha had such a moment - and it catapulted her into the spotlight and onto the London fashion week schedule. For Autumn/Winter 2012 Rocha wisely decided to build on the aesthetic foundations she established back in September. That would be spare, girlish shapes, an eye for interesting textiles and an approach best described as 'embellished Minimalism.' 'You build it up and then you pull it back,' is how Rocha defines her singular approach to design. 'Otherwise, it just gets saturated.'
Refined was the word. This time, Rocha's riff was on the idea of Old and New Ireland, thirties street children and Papua New Guinea tribes. Sounds like a madcap mix, but Rocha, indeed, built it up and pulled it back. What it distilled down to was the essence of rich texture and barely-there colours - mottled greys, palettes of ivory and black, a single jolt of acrid chartreuse in mohairs, metallic leather, chintzed lace and hefty fur-like crochet on transparent PVC. That crotchet outlined collars on narrow, almost-prim schoolgirl dresses, sometimes feral in black fur, sometimes crisp in starched cotton inset with tulle.
With those intricate, elaborately worked surfaces, Rocha wisely kept her silhouettes sleek and simple. There was something child-like about the sharp, almost crayoned edges to A-line mini-skirts, boxy biker jackets and cone-shaped overcoats, like girlish silhouette scissored from paper. But to paraphrase Baudelaire, there's a genius to childhood recaptured at will - it was difficult to watch these clothes and not long to see them outfitting legions of women. And despite the youth of designer and of outlook, there was something there you could see one women, not girls. Women will look quietly, subtly spectacular in Rocha's chunky knits, in her tulle-wrapped boucle tweed skirts and short, wide-cut suiting. The corded lace biker-jacket and matching mini skirt she opened with is doubtless destined for at least one chic East End wedding - and more than a few women's everyday wardrobes.
It was always going to be difficult for Rocha to top the ecstatic audience reaction to her spring show. Here she accomplished it with the greatest of ease. What was so seductive? These clothes vibrated energy, from the thick, perspex-soled men's brogues to the tips of her hand-crocheted wool caps. It was passionate, and convincing. You want the whole world to look like this. Right now.