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Style Notes: It’s layers and lace as Simone Rocha teams up with H&M

Bairbre Power on the latest fashion news and new Irish lines you need to know about

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'Normal People' actress Daisy Edgar-Jones dressed in Simone Rocha x H&M

'Normal People' actress Daisy Edgar-Jones dressed in Simone Rocha x H&M

'Normal People' actress Daisy Edgar-Jones dressed in Simone Rocha x H&M

The annual H&M designer collaborations are good for the wallet but not necessarily good for your blood pressure! There is always a race to buy when things are limited edition and you are shopping against the clock.

Undoubtedly, the biggest stampede I ever witnessed for a H&M collab was the Balmain collection in 2015, designed by Olivier Rousteing and modelled by Kendall Jenner. “Balmainia” frenzy broke out and, just as I’d suspected given Rousteing’s French roots, fit and size presented a challenge for many body types.

So there I was, the night before the much-anticipated launch, at a rammed press event racing to try on as many pieces as I could before filing within 30 minutes for the next day’s newspaper. I’d received the advice to size up because the clothes were “cut to a French block — they are definitely not cut for Irish women who have tummies, bums and boobs”.

These designer collections always bring out the collectors, with their eye not on the silhouette but the bottom line. Traditionally, the H&M designer collections start achieving eye-watering prices online within hours. The upcoming Simone Rocha x H&M collection, launching March 11, will definitely have a huge resale value because her own luxury womenswear line commands four-figure price tags, while these collab pieces will run from €179 for a dress and coat and €249 for her statement brogues.

However, I sincerely hope that the bulk of Rocha’s collaboration pieces fall into the hands of people who want to wear her signature style of oversized silhouettes, flattering cocoon shapes, unusual fabrics and her trademark quirky accessories, but haven’t been able to afford to buy them to date.

While Rousteing and other H&M designer collaborators have favoured bodycon shapes, that cannot be said of Rocha, who has explored oversized silhouettes for the last decade. Bridgerton star Nicola Coughlan chose a full-skirted, pouf-sleeved black organza dress from Simone’s own SS21 line for her appearance on The Late Late Show last week.

Naturally, there was disappointment, followed by confusion, when it emerged that the collab would stop at a size L. But what’s an L?

In response, H&M said in a statement: “We understand the frustration regarding the sizes for our upcoming collaboration with Simone Rocha. The garments offered in L for this collection are equivalent to a UK size 16-18, but we understand that it is not including all sizes as communicated in the video. For us it was important to design a collection that would work for different shapes, as this is something that has always been important for us.”

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Embellished trench coat and shirt from Simone Rocha’s forthcoming H&M collaboration

Embellished trench coat and shirt from Simone Rocha’s forthcoming H&M collaboration

Embellished trench coat and shirt from Simone Rocha’s forthcoming H&M collaboration

Analysing the contents, this collection features touch points from past collections. The shapes look roomy, and designed to layer. There are glimpses of tartan, lace and sequins layered over cotton shirts. Rocha’s pearl barrette hair slides were copied the world over and, in this collab, a fondness for pearls pops up regularly on brogues, embellished clothing and accessories like a bow brooch.

Video of the Day

It also marks a new line in the sand as Simone expands her reach into menswear and childrenswear. It’s almost like a 2021 nod to the success her dad, John, enjoyed with his high-street collab with Debenhams.

At 34, and one decade into growing her luxury label, Simone Rocha has made a major footprint in international fashion. Given the reaction to her signature “handwriting”, it can only be a matter of time before the big international couture houses come calling for the Dubliner with a very original point of view.

London via Donegal

There’s news of another new Irish brand to get off the fashion blocks for our delectation in 2021 — Stephen McLaughlin from Co Donegal launched SML London two days before Christmas. He has a charmed, self-assured gift with everyday glamour and his business model is very practical.

The 27-year-old only works on pre-orders so once you pay your money, he will make your bespoke piece; it means he has total sell-through, eliminating the problem of excess stock.

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The ‘Niamh’ dress, £490, from Stephen McLaughlin’s new clothing range, SML London

The ‘Niamh’ dress, £490, from Stephen McLaughlin’s new clothing range, SML London

The ‘Niamh’ dress, £490, from Stephen McLaughlin’s new clothing range, SML London

Checking out the brand online, you will immediately see some hero dresses like the ‘Niamh’ dress in a linen-rayon mix. The £490 dress features a cut-out detail on the front, which draws attention to the waist. Gently gathered on the bust, it has pretty cap sleeves, a voluminous sun-ray pleated skirt and an open back. The delivery time on pre-orders is currently March-April 2021.

Other stars in Stephen’s debut collection include the ‘Aoife’ dress (£330), in liquid-effect satin in shades of lilac or grey. The slightly fitted dress has in-built drama with a draped scarf, and hardcore fans of a Little Black Dress should check out the appealing qualities of his ‘Simone’ dress (£495) in dark navy linen with a high neck and thigh-grazing slit.

A graduate of Limerick School of Art & Design, Stephen then moved to the UK, where he notched up experience in luxury, ready-to-wear and accessories, working with top Irish designer Sharon Wauchob as well as House of Holland and J&M Davidson.

The dresses are designed and made in London and he sources his fabrics from Paris and Italy. There is the option to customise your purchase in different colours.

Stephen says the idea to launch his brand started at a train station as he was preparing to go to Yorkshire for lockdown. “I thought, ‘It’s now or never,’ after working on luxury and high street. I thought, ‘Let’s just give it a go: the worst you can do is fail, but at least you’ve tried.”

See smllondon.com

 


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