Sunday 28 December 2014

Irish fashion designer John Rocha steps down from the catwalk

Bairbre Power, Irish Independent Fashion Editor

Published 09/05/2014 | 10:05

Designer John Rocha (R) walks alongside a model on the runway of the John Rocha show during London Fashion Week AW14 at Somerset House on February 15, 2014 in London, England Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images
Designer John Rocha (R) walks alongside a model on the runway of the John Rocha show during London Fashion Week AW14 at Somerset House on February 15, 2014 in London, England Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images
Simone ,John and Odette Rocha at the Handbags and Gladrags Art auction in aid of the cancer ward in Crumlin Children's Hospital. Photo Kieran Harnett
A model on the runway for the John Rocha show at London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2012 at the BFC Space at Somerset House on September 17, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
John Rocha pictured in 2001 with his Waterford Crystal Collection CREDIT MARK MCCALL
A model walks the runway at the John Rocha show during London Fashion Week AW14 at Somerset House on February 15, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)
From John Rocha's final catwalk collection AW14
From John Rocha's final catwalk collection AW14
Famous for his surface detail, John Rocha wowed at his Autumn Winter 2010 show

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.

from John Rocha final catwalk collection, AW14.jpg

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

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