Wednesday 22 November 2017

Rocha to swap London Fashion for fishing in Himalayas as he bows out from catwalk

John Rocha. Photo: Peter Houlihan
John Rocha. Photo: Peter Houlihan
John Rocha has announced he will no longer produce a yearly womenswear collection
John Rocha with his daughter Simone and wife Odette. Photo: Kieran Harnett
John Rocha has announced he will no longer produce a yearly womenswear collection
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

"MY wife is wondering where she's going to get her clothes from now."

John Rocha smiles as he talks about his Birr-born wife Odette, who has been his "muse" and the inspiration for his mainline womenswear collection. A collection which, he announced yesterday, will cease to exist from next season.

"I love fashion but fashion is not my whole life," said Rocha, who turned 60 last August and sees his retirement from the demands of London Fashion Week (LFW) catwalk after 30 years as "an opportunity to do different things".

As he tells it, Rocha could be working in anything from bricks and mortar to metal, even furniture.

But there will be more fishing packed into his diary now that six months of his year aren't swallowed up producing collections.

"In the 41 years since I left Hong Kong, I've never been able to spend Chinese New Year there – and next spring I am going to fish for mahseer in the Himalayas. I'm really looking forward to it," says Rocha, who is of Chinese and Portuguese descent.

Announcing his retirement from the catwalk, he will continue to work on his lifestyle collaborations which – along with his high-end clothing collections – have made him a wealthy man and the father-of-three has homes in Dublin, London and the south of France.

However, the Rocha name will still live on at LFW as his 27-year-old daughter Simone continues to build her own label with astounding success to date.

"I always promised myself that I wouldn't do catwalk shows until the day I died. Now I want to experiment in different mediums," he says.

"I went from fashion to glass in 1995 and I'm very interested in architecture. I want to challenge myself in new mediums, I want to leave myself open to different things."

There will be no taking his foot off the pedal and next Monday he will meet with Waterford Crystal about a new range of glasses.

His clothing and interiors range with Debenhams is "expanding rapidly" and there will be a new optical range launching with Specsavers next month.

After moving to Ireland in 1978, Rocha would be the first to admit the importance of the country in building his success.

"My whole foundation as a designer is based in Ireland, for sure – and for a couple of reasons. I have an amazingly loyal team who have been with me for over 20 years and also a lot of support from customers and the press."

Speaking to the Irish Independent yesterday, Rocha said his career highlights included winning the British Designer of the Year in 1993 and being awarded a CBE by the queen in 2002.

While recently seeing Lady Gaga wear one of his creations prompted him into thinking that maybe this was a good time to stop on a high.

"For me, it's the end of one journey and the beginning of another," he says.

Irish Independent

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