I had a funny feeling in the pit of my tummy when I heard of John Rocha’s early retirement from the fashion world. Kind of sad-but-happy, I guess. I’ve always held that special kind of Irish pride for him, the type only Irish people have for ‘our own’. We claim them, and then never let them go. Really, he has been part of my career since I started working in fashion. I’ve attended at least ten of his legendary London Fashion week shows; written about his collections, umpteen times; requested specific runway pieces to be flown from the London showroom for numerous IMAGE shoots; been welcomed backstage after his Fashion Week shows, always with open arms; and got the golden ticket to his much-coveted sample sales. I think it’s his unwavering signature style I admire the most. Never has he deviated from what he is good at. He’s not swayed by fickle fashion trends – he makes clothes that are painstakingly constructed with a romantic dark-edged beauty, often with an Edwardian touch. When I think of a John Rocha design, I think of voluminous ruffles, cobweb Irish lace, crochet, corsages, volume, and kooky shoes, all topped off with wisps of tulle. Each one made with such detailed craftsmanship, they are almost like an art piece. The most memorable? It’s got to be spring/summer 2009, where ethereal designs with a play on proportions almost brought a tear to my eye. The show finished with a cascade of brilliant bright colour – genius; and the autumn/winter 2013 collection, with my bucket-list voluminous moss green dress. The seemless knitting of old and new that he masters every time will be inked in my memory. Isn’t it just as well he has passed the fashion design baton to Simone, my new lust-after love.
Sive O’Brien IMAGE Fashion Editor @siveob