Irish fashion designer John Rocha steps down from the catwalk
Published 09/05/2014 | 10:05
Top Irish fashion designer John Rocha today announced he is stepping away from the catwalk – but not from the world of design.
The 60-year-old Hong Kong-born, Dublin-based designer has confirmed that he is retiring from London Fashion Week.
Rocha, who was named British Designer of the year in 1993 is moving away from high end, luxurious women’s clothing but intends to continue with his many lifestyle licensing deals, collaborating with Waterford Crystal, high Street store Debenhams and eyewear retailers specsavers.
The internationally feted designer steps away from the volatile world of ready-to-wear fashion on a high.
His Autumn Winter 2014 collection - memorable for its georgette and chiffon - ruffles was critically acclaimed when John showed it at London Fashion Week three months ago.
It was a eulogy to romance and ruffles with lush velvets and diaphanous georgettes, inspired by dark Icelandic skies and the canvases of Pierre Soulages and since February, celebrities, like Lady Gaga, have rushed to wear it.
John Rocha’s announcement means that the AW14 collection - including his final catwalk dress, John’s favourite, which comprised of a network of oval medallions of black patent leather crocheted together - will become collectors items …that is, if you can manage to buy them.
The rush by fashionistas to archive his pieces - loved because of his textural, surface detail and use of fabrics - starts in earnest today following John’s announcement that he is biding au revoir to the catwork.
However London Fashion Week will have the continued presence of a Rocha on their schedule as John’s 27-year-old designer daughter Simone continues to prove that while she may be a chip off the old block, this second generation Rocha has a very original, modern fashion tale to tell.
John who first moved to Ireland in 1978 and turned 60 last August with a party at his French home in St Jean Cap Ferrat said today “it is almost 30 years since I first showed my collection at London Fashion Week. It has been an amazing journey for me, one for which I am truly grateful, grateful for the opportunity to present my vision and to follow my dreams.
“But now is time for me to explore new challenges. And so I have decided that from September, I will no longer present a collection at London Fashion Week, and that even though I am so happy with the wonderful response to my Autumn Winter 2014 collection, sadly it will be my last.”
The father–of-three who splits his working week between Dublin and London works with his wife and muse and they have two grown up children, Simone and Max. John has an older daughter, Zoe, from his first marriage to designer Eily Doolan. He has worked on a number of architectural/interiors design projects including the launch of the Morrisson Hotel in Dublin and designing a glass chapel for Paddy McKillen's Château La Coste in Provence.
Paying tribute to his staff - none of whom will lose their jobs in his company, Three Moon Design in Dublin, because of his transition away from a catwalk collection, Rocha said that calling time on the catwalk collection “has been a huge decision for me, and one to which I have given a great deal of thought, a decision filled with a mixture of sadness and anticipation.
“However, I feel this is the right time, both professionally and personally, for me to move on to new things, to begin a new journey.
A look from John Rocha's final catwalk collection AW14
“The John Rocha business remains strong and I am delighted to continue to work with wonderful partners on the high street and in crystal and interiors. We remain committed and excited by the opportunities in the UK and beyond.
“I would like to sincerely thank all those who have supported and continue to support me, and who I have had the pleasure of working with over the past thirty years. I am blessed to have had such a wonderful team to help steer the business in the past, and I look forward to continuing to work with them, as we set out on the next phase of our journey.
I look forward to the future and the new challenges it may bring.’’
In an interview with Vogue, John said "if I stay, I want to have something to say and I always want to keep the standard high. The last couple of collections I looked back on and I thought to myself, 'that is really the best work I can do'," he says contentedly. "For the last few years I can see lots of talented people and designers coming up and with so much young talent you have to work so much harder, and I'm not going to do it until I drop!"
* Read Bairbre Power’s exclusive interview with John Rocha in tomorrow’s Irish Independent