I’m pretty sure that when H&M signed on the dotted line to confirm its upcoming collaboration with designer Simone Rocha, the brand did not expect to be launching into a world that had been in the grips of a global pandemic for 12 months. I would also hazard a guess that the creative teams didn’t factor in that their frothy tulle gowns and richly embroidered fabrics would be released to a tracksuit-clad consumer base who now consider listening to Heart Radio’s Club Classics on their sofa with a G&T to be a big night out (just me?). But here we are.
From Margiela and Alber Elbaz to Comme des Garçons, H&M’s designer collaborations have long been considered a hot commodity amongst the fashion crowd, yet against the backdrop of a struggling high street and brand closures, innovation and originality on the affordable end of the market have never been more important. With consumers increasingly moving online to buy clothes, it’s all too easy for fashion brands, particularly on the high street, to get caught up in an algorithm-driven race to create the most broadly appealing commercial item that speaks of what has gone before rather than what lies ahead.
Rocha was probably not the most obvious choice for mass appeal, yet her collection points to the optimism and creativity of a new wave of Brit design talent, one that truly owns its own perspective and seeks to speak to new audiences. After seeing and trying on the collection in real life, I can confirm that H&M has allowed Rocha to remain true to her aesthetic rather than cutting corners or toning down the richly layered references that run through the designer’s runway collections.
“It truly is a celebration of the signatures of my brand and the influences that have shaped me,” explains Rocha. “I hope that the items in this collection will be worn and treasured for years to come. They were all informed by ideas and inspirations that have shaped me and my brand over the last 10 years, and I am so excited to see them worn out and about and interpreted and styled in new ways.”
But down to the important stuff. What did I think of the collection? The first thing that struck me was the quality of the pieces I was pulling out of the delivery box—a heavyweight cream cable-knit jumper, a puffed dress skirt that did not scrimp on the tulle, intricate floral cloqué fabrics that looked like they had stepped right out of a period drama. There is also a definite punkish thread that weaves itself through the collection via flashes of tartan, oversize knits, and offbeat asymmetric hemlines. In a nutshell, it’s a celebration of everything that has been absent in our wardrobes over the last year: drama, frivolity, and plenty of ostentatious silhouettes.
There were a few highlights that genuinely made me gasp with delight, including a pink jacquard-patterned cloqué gown with a skirt that had zero gravity–like fullness. Note that this is coming from someone who usually wears a floral dress about once a year. I may have swooshed around the house in it for longer than was strictly necessary. On the other end of the spectrum was a pair of befrilled tartan trousers, which were very much up my street, and I plan on wearing them with simple white tees and loafers come summer.
But really, there are too many gems to name, and I have no doubt that many of these pieces will sell out in less than 10 minutes. With the collection set to drop at 8 a.m. on March 11, the clock is now ticking, but in the meantime, scroll down to get my review of the best bits from Simone Rocha’s H&M collaboration.