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When one hears “the ’90s are back,” it’s generally not the 1890s. But Simone Rocha took us there with her Spring 2020 collection, which married gauzy gowns and encrusted pearl headbands with lace shorts, organza pants, and some very sharp pajama bottoms.
Both a gender bend and an allusion to antique porcelain dolls, the style was on nearly every look, from flouncy black party frocks to embroidered white dresses with mulberry flowers. Karen Elson swung a purse in the shape of a giant freshwater pearl; manicurist Ama Quashie echoed the detail with tiny pearls on every nail. And though the audience rumors that Margaret Atwood would walk the show (!) proved wrong, Irish drama legends like Lesley Manville (The Phantom Thread) and Olwen Fouéré walked alongside Karen Elson and Adut Akech.
According to Rocha, the show grew from a vision of “The Wren Boys,” a rowdy pack of kids born from Irish folk custom. Traditionally appearing the day after Christmas, the Wren Boys (and girls, too!) dress up in antique clothes and straw-strung wigs, then sing and dance through town while raising money for charity. “I want it to feel like they are coming to knock down doors,” Rocha said of her models. They may also need to knock down the walls of my closet so I have more room for these outta-my-way clothes. Rocha describes them as a “uniformity of frills,” which is also the name of my punk band.
How to wear these gasp-worthy creations in the real world? Any way one wants… though perhaps Alexa Chung nailed the Simone-Adjacent vibe best in one of the designer’s luminous tulle trench dresses and a pair of her own faded jeans.
The 1890’s are so very jealous.